Minneapolis is best shot for Midwest title game


If the college football national championship game is going to be held in the Midwest in the near future, then it looks like it may be Twin Cities or bust.

Minneapolis officially threw its hat into the ring for the 2020 title game on Tuesday with an announcement at the state capitol. The 2018, '19 and '20 games are open in the next bidding cycle, and bids are due May 27.

Minneapolis appears to be the only Midwest city to get involved in this round. Indianapolis, which seems like a natural fit because of its history of hosting major events such as the Final Four and the Super Bowl, has decided not to pursue this next round of college football title games. Other cities expected to compete include Atlanta, Miami, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Florida, and Santa Clara, California.

The New York/New Jersey area -- which technically is now Big Ten country -- could still get involved. But as far as having the game in the traditional Big Ten footprint, Minneapolis looks like the only chance during the event's first six years. (Even the Rose Bowl, which is familiar Big Ten turf, has taken itself out of the running). Minneapolis had planned on bidding on both the 2019 and 2020 games, but with the Final Four coming in '19, decided to concentrate on 2020.

I've written before that the Midwest not only deserves to host the title game, but it would be unfair if the game never came to that part of the country. Unlike bowl games, which began and still mostly function as tourism generators and vacation spots for snowbirds, the title game is supposed to be about neutrality and fairness. People aren't planning vacations around that game because they can't know if their team will make it until 10 days before it kicks off. With the first two games being held practically indoors anyway (at JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas, and in Glendale, Arizona) weather shouldn't be a factor in selecting the site.

Of course, the simple-minded objection to Minneapolis from some corners will be it's too cold in the wintertime. Of course, that overlooks the fact temperatures were in the 30s in the lead-up to the game last year in Texas. Or that there's already been a successful Super Bowl held outdoors. If anything, Minneapolis knows how to handle the cold and the snow, and its system of indoor walkways downtown lessens the burden on visitors.

The new downtown dome that will house the NFL should be a spectacular venue, and it will be the site of the 2018 Super Bowl, along with the 2019 Final Four. The 2020 national title game would make quite the trifecta. And rightly so, since Minneapolis is a great city, full of excellent restaurants and nightlife. It's certainly worlds ahead of Jacksonville in every way that doesn't involve a beach (which is useless in January, anyway).

The champion of the first playoff resides in the Midwest. It's only fair the national title game comes to the region from time to time as well, instead of always being in the South and West. Hopefully the site selection committee has the right 2020 vision when it comes to Minneapolis.