SBD/June 27, 2012/Colleges

Everyone Wants In: Cities Now Vying To Host New College Championship Game

Cowboys Stadium has already formed a bid to host the championship game
Under the new college football playoff format approved yesterday by university presidents, the championship game "will be held at a neutral site, and cities will have the opportunity to bid to host the event," according to Adam Himmelsbach of the N.Y. TIMES. The game will be played "on the first Monday in January, unless it falls on Jan. 1." Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “It will be much like the Super Bowl. You’ll be dealing with civic communities, and I think it’ll be a national process and people have to be very energetic about it. I think it’s going to be great for the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27). In Tampa, Greg Auman notes it is "not known exactly which six bowls will host the semifinals, though it's expected to be the current four BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta) with two additional hosts." The Outback Bowl "should be a viable candidate for the semifinal rotation, with speculation also focusing on established bowl hosts such as Dallas, Atlanta and Orlando" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/27). In Miami, Barry Jackson cited a source as saying that the Orange Bowl is "expected to be one of six bowls that will share the national semifinal games in a rotation" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 6/26).

WHO IS IN? ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach wrote at this point, “only two games are guaranteed a spot in the semifinals rotation: the Champions Bowl (which will pit the Big 12 against the SEC) and the Rose Bowl (which pits the Big Ten versus the Pac-12).” The ACC “is close to finalizing an agreement with the Orange Bowl, which would also become one of the three contract games included in the rotation.” The Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl “will probably be considered,” but a source said that the commissioners “probably favored having the additional games in the Southeast, Texas and the West Coast.” The commissioners said that the first semifinals games “will be played on either Dec. 31, 2014 or Jan. 1, 2015.” The first national championship game “is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2015, and commissioners plan to play the championship game on the second Monday night of January in each of the first five seasons.” The revenue-sharing plan “remains under discussion.” But commissioners did reveal “some of the criteria for how the money will be divided: on-field success, teams' expenses, marketplace factors and academic performance of student-athletes” (ESPN.com, 6/26). In Virginia, David Teel wrote ACC Commissioner John Swofford yesterday “all but announced that the ACC will renew ties with the Orange Bowl.” Swofford said, “We’ll probably have something on that in the very near future” (DAILYPRESS.com, 6/26). In New Orleans, Ted Lewis notes the Champions and Rose bowls, "along with a game -- most likely the Orange Bowl ... will be deemed 'contract bowls' and will be guaranteed spots in the semifinals rotation." Three other bowl games "will be deemed 'access bowls' and will pit at-large teams." The Fiesta Bowl "should be one of those, along with the Cotton or Sugar Bowl and another game." Orlando is the "other leading contender." Maintaining the Sugar Bowl name for the game "would have to be negotiated." The same "is true for the Cotton Bowl, the other leading contender for the new bowl." Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said, "Becoming the Champions Bowl could be very costly. We’ve got to determine if we have the financial wherewithal to be in that position. But when you think Sugar Bowl, you think SEC. This thing is fairly complicated" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/27).

WANTING A PIECE OF THE PIE: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits noted the city will “attempt to host a semifinal game and the national championship game ... though not in the same year” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 6/26). In Phoenix, Craig Harris notes the Fiesta Bowl “will have to bid to become a part of the new playoff system.” While it was not clear what hosting the game will cost, BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said that the Fiesta Bowl  "has an inside track to be one of six elite bowls in the new system.” Hancock: "By the current contract, the Fiesta Bowl gets the first right to negotiate. They will have the first at-bat, and you know how much we like them." The bowl “currently pays $6 million annually to host a traditional BCS game, but that figure is expected to increase” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/27). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton notes a nonprofit entity made up of the Cotton Bowl Classic, the Cowboys and Cowboys Stadium “has already been formed to bid for the title game.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, “It’s a great facility, and we’ll see how much interest that facility has” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/27). Carlton noted it would be an “upset of Appalachian State proportions if Cowboys Stadium is not in the championship rotation” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/27). In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel wrote “perhaps only Atlanta can match Arlington as a college football locale with so much going for it, and Arlington wins that matchup by a landslide on the stadium.” There seems “no chance Arlington won't be part of the new playoff order.” Univ. of Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione said, “My guess is they'll go for both. One of the semifinal games for sure, and also make a play to try to host the championship game. That's not inside information, that's just the forward thinking they have” (NEWSOK.com, 6/26). Houston Sports Authority Exec Dir Janis Schmees said that the city and Reliant Stadium “plan to make a push to host college football's new football championship game” (CHRON.com, 6/27).

A NEW MODEL? SI.com’s Andy Staples wrote had the bowls “been cut out completely and the semifinals played on campuses, it would have been easy to expand the bracket.” Now, it is “quite complicated, and 12 years worth of legally binding contracts should ensure the number stays at four until after most of the current commissioners have retired.” If other bowls “don't like the new arrangement, tough.” The Big 12 and SEC “fired a shot across the bow of the bowl system last month when they announced the formation of the Champions Bowl.” If the leagues “get their wish, they'll keep every penny of revenue from the game in years in which it doesn't host a semifinal” (SI.com, 6/26).
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