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Holiday Bowl suing Pac-12, UCLA following 2021 cancelation

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Posted at 3:04 PM, May 31, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Holiday Bowl has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against UCLA and the Pac-12 after the university’s football team backed out of the game just hours before kickoff in 2021.

The lawsuit states that in 2019, the San Diego Bowl Game Association entered into a contract with the Pac-12 and its member institutions in the annual Holiday Bowl.

In 2021, UCLA was selected as the participating team from the Pac-12 to play in the Holiday Bowl.

The lawsuit states that around noon on the day the game was set to be played, UCLA announced that the team would not play in the game “after which on the UCLA football players, coaches and support staff, as well as the UCLA band, boarded their buses and returned to Los Angeles.” As a result of UCLA pulling out of the game, the Holiday Bowl was canceled.

RELATED: Holiday Bowl in downtown San Diego canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within UCLA football program

“Had UCLA announced its intention not to play other than mere hours before kickoff and, instead, had staked its position days or weeks before the game, SDBGA would have been afforded an opportunity to engage a replacement team to square off against the ACC’s representative and prevent cancellation of the 2021 Holiday Bowl in its entirety,” the lawsuit continues.

Due to the cancelation, the SDBGA said it had to forfeit ticket revenue in excess of $3.6 million, the organization’s title sponsor also “demanded that its $1.4 million title sponsorship amount be returned or credited against the 2022 Holiday Bowl game.”

“SDBGA’s total revenue losses caused by UCLA’s refusal to honor its obligations under the 2019 PAC-12 contract exceeded $7.8 million,” the lawsuit said. “SDBGA has engaged and continues to engage in good faith with the PAC-12 to negotiate a resolution of the dispute without success.”

Pac-12 sent 10News the following statement:

Despite the Pac-12’s good faith efforts to find an amicable and fair resolution, the Holiday Bowl filed a lawsuit this week seeking to leverage for its own financial gain the global COVID-19 pandemic which led to the cancellation of the 2021 Holiday Bowl. The Holiday Bowl is now also refusing to pay the fees it owes the Pac-12 for our member institution’s participation in the 2022 Holiday Bowl, in clear breach of our agreement.

The Pac-12 plans to vigorously defend against the lawsuit, which is wholly without merit, and to seek the monies owed by the Holiday Bowl under our agreement.

Sports San Diego also sent a statement following regarding the lawsuit:

Late yesterday the non-profit Holiday Bowl effort filed a complaint in San Diego County Superior Court against the Pac-12 Conference and UCLA for the damages we incurred when UCLA elected not to play the game in 2021. In honor of our decades-long partnership with the Pac-12, we diligently tried to resolve the matter privately and out of the public eye. We were unsuccessful. We are, of course, disappointed this is how we must now resolve the dispute. That said, we believe strongly in our position and will continue to work towards a positive resolution for our organization and community. Concurrently, we continue with planning for what surely will be another incredible Holiday Bowl experience at Petco Park this December!

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in San Diego County and seeks at least $3 million. Click here to read the full lawsuit.