It looked like game over Wednesday morning for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Instead, a protracted fight over whether the city will give ESPN $300,000 to keep it at the Cotton Bowl for two more years has gone into overtime.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said that under normal circumstances, he believes the council would have overwhelmingly approved the incentives a marked reduction from the $800,000 the council rejected back in March. But because of city guidelines concerning private-public economic development dollars, Wednesday's vote required approval from three-quarters of the 15-member council.

Several council members tried to persuade their colleagues to support the deal. Some touted it as a relatively small investment to make for four hours' worth of national exposure on ESPN the day after Christmas. And others pitched it as a job creator, even if they're just temp jobs, in a neighborhood where every opportunity should be welcomed.

Winters said after the meeting "there will still be a game at the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 26 regardless." But a 2019 game is unlikely.

"There is the option of looking at other facilities," he said, "but we're so far into the year right now, hopefully we'll continue to play here."

Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission, said she has been talking with ESPN about getting better teams in the future which would mean higher attendance and better ratings. But she said in an interview she's concerned that if the council votes against the incentive, ESPN will simply take the game elsewhere like Austin, which wants a bowl game.

And that will leave the Cotton Bowl dark during bowl season. Again.