Lambeau Field wants Big Ten title game

July, 15, 2010
7/15/10
5:37
PM ET
It's boiling here in Chicago and around most of the Midwest today, so go crank up the AC, grab a cold one and put on your parka.

Now picture this: the Big Ten championship game at historic Lambeau Field.

It could become a reality.

Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy told me today that the team is "very interested" in hosting a potential Big Ten football championship game. Murphy, the former Northwestern athletic director, already has contacted the Big Ten office to express the desire in bringing the title game to Lambeau Field.
“The Big Ten has got such history and tradition, and to have a championship in Lambeau Field would be tremendous. It’d be good for our community and good for college football to have it in such a historic venue.”

Now the Big Ten hasn't actually decided to host a championship in football. There are some potential problems, as Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke recently outlined with me, but Burke and pretty much everyone around the league thinks the title game will become a reality. When it does, facilities from around the Midwest will begin bidding to host the event.

[+] EnlargeLambeau Field
AP Photo/Mike RoemerLambeau Field would be anything but balmy for a Big Ten championship game in December, but players and fans would likely love it.
Among those interested are Chicago's Soldier Field, Detroit's Ford Field and Cleveland Browns Stadium, while Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is considered a top candidate.

But none of those venues has the mystique and history of Lambeau Field.

The more I think about this, the more I absolutely love this idea.

For a league that cherishes its history and its stadiums, what better place than Lambeau to hold a championship game?

Yes, the logistics could be challenging. Green Bay isn't a huge place and it's not as centralized as Indianapolis, Detroit or even Cleveland. Finding enough hotel rooms for two teams and two fan bases would be tough.

And there's the weather factor. Green Bay can get downright miserable, even in early December.

But isn't that part of the charm? Murphy seems to think so.
“Early December, that’s balmy in Green Bay,” Murphy joked. “To me, that’s part of the attraction of college football, to play in the elements. We’re going to have a Super Bowl in New York in February, so it’s not that much different.”

Lambeau Field also has a seating capacity of 72,928, quite a bit larger than Soldier Field (61,500), Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000) and Ford Field (65,000). Cleveland Browns Stadium is comparable at 73,200.

According to Weather Underground, the average temperature in Green Bay on Dec. 3, the likely date for the first Big Ten championship, hovers between 18-34 degrees. Factor in the wind chill, and the stadium is anything but balmy.

But Big Ten fans can handle it, and the players would love it.

A few other nuggets and thoughts:

  • The Packers would use the same game operations staff for a Big Ten championship game. Murphy thinks the community would be pretty fired up about it.
  • Murphy said the Big Ten is still in the planning stages for how it wants to structure the league with a 12th member. "They put out requests for proposal and a number of different people bid on it," he said. "It's not that dissimilar with what the Big Ten went through with the basketball tournament."
  • Murphy's connection to the Big Ten could be a key factor here. As a former Big Ten athletic director, he has strong relationships with commissioner Jim Delany, other Big Ten officials and his former colleagues from around the league. Those relationships certainly can't hurt his cause.
  • Lambeau Field hasn't hosted college football since 1982-83, when nearby St. Norbert College played Fordham, the alma mater of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi, in games that raised money to fight cancer.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but the Big Ten will have some great options for a title game.

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