SBD/Issue 244/College Football Preview

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Planning To Expand To Multiple Games

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game Hopes To Mirror
NFL With Extended Opening Weekend In Future

The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta "plans to expand from a season-opening game into a long weekend of college football that will rival the NFL's celebration on the first weekend of play," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The game, which this year features LSU-North Carolina facing off Saturday at the Georgia Dome, began in '08. In its first two years the game has "produced solid matchups with highly ranked teams, but future events could incorporate a game on the Thursday night before Labor Day weekend, a Saturday night game and possibly" College Football HOF inductions "on the Friday between." The Thursday game "could start as early as 2012, while the hall opens in 2013." Chick-fil-A Bowl President & CEO Gary Stokan, who is directing the HOF's move from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta, said of the Kickoff Game, "Now we're really talking about blowing it out." Smith notes an "expanded weekend of season-opening football would help the Chick-fil-A Kickoff stay a step ahead of some eager competitors who, like the Atlanta organizers, are working with ESPN to create marquee matchups." Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said that the conference has "begun talks with the Big Ten about a season-opening game in Pasadena's Rose Bowl, but it won't happen until 2012 at the earliest" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/30 issue).

GROWING TREND: In N.Y., Harvey Araton wrote Monday's Boise State-Virginia Tech game is the "Super Bowl of the nonconference portion of the college football season," and "fittingly, it will be played in a stadium of professional gladiators," FedExField. Boise State "has been guaranteed $1.25 million for the opportunity to get a high-quality victory under its belt," while Virginia Tech will earn $2.35M "to make sure its fan base carpools its way east so the ESPN cameras will not reveal too many empty seats for the prime-time showing." Redskins CMO Mitch Gershman said the team's "expectations are that the game will be a sellout." FedExField also will host the Nov. 20 Penn State-Indiana game after Indiana was "promised a cool $3 million" to give up its home game. Gershman said that "'creating a year-round relationship' with the team's season-ticket and suite holders was the primary impetus behind its hunger for college football business" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29). In Houston, Joseph Duarte noted 16 college games "will be played at NFL stadiums across the nation" this season, and "two other games will be played at Major League Baseball stadiums." With more schools "willing to swap home dates for neutral-site locations, major venues such as Reliant Stadium, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the Alamodome in San Antonio are aggressively pursuing college matchups." Reasons for schools moving home dates include "playing in front of big crowds at modern NFL venues, catering to large alumni groups and reaching potential recruits." The "financial windfall also can be considerable for participating schools." Oklahoma last year received $2.5M "for moving a game against BYU scheduled for Norman, Okla., to Cowboys Stadium" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/30).

PRICED OUT: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel reported "a lot has been made of the fact that there could be a lot of empties" for Saturday's Oregon State-TCU game at Cowboys Stadium. A crowd "of 40,000 in a stadium designed to seat over 70,000 isn't exactly what the good people at TCU, Oregon State, the Cowboys or ESPN had in mind when they scheduled this game." Engel noted tickets for the "best seat" for the game cost $163.13. Engel: "Everything at JerryWorld is more expensive, from the parking to the seats to the Cokes to the hot dogs" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 9/1).

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