Critics say city of Dallas was biggest loser of First Responder Bowl game

There are more questions than answers after the cancellation of Wednesday’s First Responder Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Organizers canceled the game during the first quarter after a lightning delay, disappointing fans and players. But critics say it's the city of Dallas that's taking the hardest hit.

It's the first bowl game ever canceled because of weather. Fans may be able to get their money back for purchased tickets, but not so much for taxpayers.   

We'll never know the winner of the 2018 Servpro First Responder Bowl between Boston College and Boise State.

The game was canceled and declared "no contest" after bad weather. Ironically, "like it never happened" is the slogan for title sponsor Servpro, a local water cleanup company.

“I was sitting here when they said everybody out of the stadium,” said football fan Michelle McQuarry.

But critics say the biggest loser is the city of Dallas.

“There's much better uses for our scarce taxpayer resources,” said Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs. “We could have used this money to fix a city park, fix potholes, fix traffic signals.”

Griggs voted against the deal in September that authorized the host city to pay ESPN, which is owned by Walt Disney, nearly $300,000 to televise the game for two years. He and others argued against what they considered a second-rate bowl game. The deal narrowly passed 8 to 6.

Griggs points to behind the scenes maneuvering.

“I just want everyone to know and the public to know that there were not the votes to pass giving this money to ESPN and Walt Disney to put on this game,” Griggs said in the September 12 meeting. “And so what city staff did, hard at work with the attorneys, is they redid the whole program so it would only need a simple majority. That's what they did to get the money.”

At the time, supporters saw it as an opportunity for national attention.

“The numbers are two million people. Let me say that again: two million,” said Dallas City Councilman Rickey Callahan in the September meeting. “That's a lot of people watching this. It's the only game on. It's the only time slot the day after Christmas.”

ESPN says ticketholders can get a full refund or tickets to next year's game at no cost.

It's unclear how much the city lost in concession sales and parking fees, in addition to the $150,000 for this year’s game.