Tuesday, May 17, 2011
B1G title game sites down to Chicago, Indy
By Adam Rittenberg
CHICAGO -- The competition to host the Big Ten's three premier championship events is down to two.
Chicago/Hoffman Estates and Indianapolis.
The two groups both made detailed presentations Tuesday before Big Ten athletic directors and other officials at the league's spring meetings. Although other cities and facilities have expressed interest in hosting future Big Ten football championship games -- Detroit, Cleveland, Green Bay -- the league is almost certainly going to go with Chicago/Hoffman Estates and/or Indianapolis.
A rotation of championship sites remains possible, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.
Indianapolis is bidding to host the football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium and both the men's and women's basketball tournaments at Conseco Fieldhouse. The other group would host the football championship at Soldier Field, the men's basketball tournament at the United Center and the women's hoops tournament at Sears Centre in suburban Hoffman Estates.
The inaugural Big Ten football title game takes place Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil in Indianapolis. Big Ten basketball tournaments have been held at both Conseco Fieldhouse and the United Center, although Indianapolis has hosted the events exclusively since 2008.
"Those are the two cities we're talking to right now," Delany said. "We are where we're going to be. That's who we've spoken with so far."
Could other cities still get involved?
"We would send the signal," Delany said, "but for now, these are the two cities we've sent signals to."
The Indianapolis contingent brought out some heavy hitters for the presentation, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian, Indiana Pacers vice president and college basketball TV analyst Clark Kellogg, a former star player at Ohio State.
"It's been a real pillar of development over the last 25 years or so, the sports capital mantra," Kellogg said. "People have really rallied around that at a high level in terms of commitment, passion, enthusiasm, all the things that make an event special."
Officials from Chicago's Park District made the pitch for Soldier Field. Chicago White Sox executive vice president Howard Pizer, who oversaw the construction of the United Center, was part of the group making the pitch for the men's basketball tournament.
Pizer, a Wisconsin alum who sported a Badgers tie Tuesday, called Chicago "the capital of the Big Ten."
It's not a huge surprise the Big Ten is looking closely at these two groups.
Both are major metropolitan areas in centralized locations for the conference. Chicago is loaded with Big Ten alumni, and Indianapolis has quite a few as well. Both cities boast a ton of hotels and fun downtown areas, although Indianapolis' facilities are closer to the city center. The Big Ten is familiar with both sites for its basketball tournaments.
The big difference for the football championship is that Soldier Field is an outdoor venue.
"It'd be warmer indoors, that's for sure," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "If [there's an indoor game], that's one way to make sure you can guarantee conditions. If you went the other direction, you could say, 'Hey, the NFL does it.'"
Delany hopes to have a resolution on the championship game sites in the next few weeks. Big Ten presidents and chancellors will meet in early June at the league office. They have final say on where future championships will be held.