Late Monday TicketCity sent word: Itâs no longer the title sponsor of the New Yearâs bowl game played for the last two years at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. The reason, per the release: The New Yearâs game has a new owner, and the new owner has other plans. Or, as TicketCity CEO Randy Cohen put it, âWe would have loved to continue as the title sponsor, but the new ownership group is going in a different direction without a corporate sponsor.â
Thatâs not exactly true, The News has learned.
Daniel Huerta, Fair Parkâs executive general manager, confirms there is a new ownership group replacing Tom Starrâs Dallas Football Classic, which brought TicketCity on board two years ago. But Huerta wonât say who the new group is, only that itâs âa new nonprofitâ based in Dallas. Says Huerta this morning, âWeâve been meeting with them for the last several months, and weâre confident the bowl game will be a success. They donât have TicketCity as a sponsor, but they do have a pretty good sponsor.â
He says an official announcement will be made October 4 at noon on the steps of the Cotton Bowl, at which time all our questions will be answered. But The News has learned the name of the new umbrella organization, Heart of Dallas, and the name of at least one of those involved, Britton Banowsky â" who happens to be the longtime commissioner of Conference USA and whose office confirms his involvement, along with âa number of people here locallyâ who will also sit on the board. Banowskyâs out of town at the moment.
Banowskyâs involvement makes sense: Last year the city bypassed Dallas Football Classic and contracted directly with Conference USA. Earlier this morning, Huerta had confirmed that C-USA, the Big 12 and Big Ten would still remain involved in the game at the Cotton Bowl. Clearly.
The TicketCity Bowl, intended to fill the void left when the Cotton Bowl Classic decamped for Arlington, isnât exactly a long-standing tradition: There have been but two â" Januaryâs protesty Houston-Penn State match-up, and last annumâs Northwestern-Texas Tech showdown. According a briefing given to the Dallas City Council in April 2011, the match-ups have been set through 2014, with the Big 12â²s No. 7 due to face off against the Big Tenâs No. 6 in 2013, and a Conference USA team set for a Big Tenâer in â14. No word yet if thatâs still the plan.
One thingâs certain: An earlier agreement with the TicketCity Bowl, wherein the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau kicked in $200,000 and Fair Park added another $50,000, is null and void. But Huerta says the city will kick in dough according to a new agreement that has yet to go before the city council.
âI think itâll be significantly different,â Huerta says of the new game. âAnd the city will support the bowl game, unlike previous ones. And thatâll help. The economic impact was $9 to $11 million, according to a study done by DCVB. Weâre just waiting on the council budget to be adopted. Weâll do a funding agreement like we do for Texas-OU, and a lease agreement for the facilities out here. Weâll do everything to make sure itâs successful. After all, itâs a slow time of the year, so this will be good for everyone, especially the hotels.â
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