Friday, April 26, 2013
Midwest venues will consider title game bid
By Adam Rittenberg
Only two venues bid on the opportunity to host the first championship game of the new College Football Playoff: Tampa and Arlington, Texas. You don't have to be a geography expert to know neither is located anywhere near Big Ten territory.
Not surprisingly, Arlington prevailed and will host the national championship on Jan. 12, 2015, at Cowboys Stadium (AKA Jerry World). The Tampa group also impressed the college football brass -- "Tampa was very close; we were very impressed," College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said -- and could be considered for future national championship games.
What about the Midwest venues? Big Ten fans long have complained about the far-flung bowl sites and how Big Ten teams are often playing virtual road games in major bowls and national championship games.
The semifinals for the College Football Playoff will take place at existing bowl sites -- Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A -- not located in the Midwest. But there will be an open bidding process for the national championship game.
This summer, the College Football Playoff will start accepting bids for the Jan. 11, 2016, and Jan. 9, 2017, championship games, sources said. Hancock said it would be a long shot for a cold-weather, non-domed stadium to get a future title game.
So that leaves Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, Detroit's Ford Field, St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome and the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis as the four major indoor venues located in or near Big Ten country that could host such an event. Lucas Oil Stadium -- with the backing of Indiana Sports Corp. -- has by far the most experience in hosting such events and is viewed by many as the Midwest venue with the best chance to land the championship game.
But we'll be waiting a while to see a championship game in Indianapolis. An Indiana Sports Corp. representative told me this week that the group's focus right now is a bid for the 2018 Super Bowl. The group certainly has interest in hosting national title games "in later years as opposed to this initial round of bidding."
Dave Beachnau, executive director of the Detroit Sports Commission, said his group hasn't seen the bid requirements but would "love the opportunity to be involved in the future bid process." A spokeswoman for the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission told ESPN.com that the St. Louis group would have interest in bidding for future championship games.
The Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, which will manage the new stadium in Minneapolis, also has interest in exploring a potential bid. The stadium is set to open in 2016, and bidding for future Super Bowls (2018, 2019 and 2020) is already under way.
So the possibility of a football championship game in the Midwest is out there. While I wouldn't anticipate it happening in the first few years of the College Football Playoff, look for some of these venues to be in the mix for the game beginning in the 2017 season.
It would be a shame for the most important events in a national sport to take place only in the South and the West.