SBD/November 30, 2012/Colleges

SEC's Mike Slive Addresses Future Of Atlanta As Host City For Championship Game

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Slive says his mindset is "never say never" when it comes to SEC expansion
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said the conference is “looking forward” to playing its football championship game in Atlanta even beyond the end of the current contract in '17, and the league is “very supportive” of the city’s bid to host semifinal and final games in college football’s new national playoff, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Slive spoke with Tucker about the SEC Championship game, the landscape of conference realignment and more. The following is an excerpt from the Q&A:

Q: Amid all the changes in college football, the SEC Championship game has remained in the same place for 19 years. What has made Atlanta home for it?
Slive: The Georgia Dome has been terrific for us. The facility has been good and the Dome staff is really superb. And having the proximity of the World Congress Center so that we can have our FanFare running in conjunction with the game, that has become very popular. It’s that, plus the fact Atlanta is an easy city to get to.

Q: Have you had talks about extending the contract?
Slive: Once plans are finalized for the new stadium, we’ll sit down and resume conversations about an extension.

Q: What do you think of the plan to replace the Dome with a retractable-roof stadium?
Slive: We’ve not been unhappy at all with the current Dome. But we like the fact that the new stadium is projected to be in essentially the same footprint with the World Congress Center. It reaffirms the fact that Atlanta is committed to staying at the forefront and therefore even makes the game more attractive for us there.

Q: What are the top items on your to-do list for the next year?
Slive: Completing our discussions about the future of our television packages is at the top of my pile. ... We’re very close to getting where we want to be. Hopefully, that will be done soon. Also, there’s completing the transition of Texas A&M and Missouri into the league. And we’ve got to finish (the changes to) the BCS and the football postseason.

Q: Is there still more conference realignment to come?
Slive: If you had asked me four or five months ago, I would have thought maybe we were entering an era of stability. But since I can’t speak for anybody else except myself, it’s hard to know. There isn’t anything in this area that surprises me anymore.

Q: Is the SEC entrenched for now at 14 members? Or could you go to 16?
Slive: I think we are comfortable now at 14. But given the vagaries of the world we live in, I would never say never.

Q: Does anything about all of this expansion/realignment bother you?
Slive: It’s really a question of what are the reasons for doing it. Do they make sense? Are they appropriate? Are they grounded in the kind of philosophy that is in fact a foundation of a conference? Some of the expansion I see, including our own, fits that model. Some of the expansion does not (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/30).

ORANGE YOU GLAD? Orange Bowl VP/Communications Larry Wahl said that while Notre Dame did not qualify for the BCS Championship Game until its victory over USC last week, the game has been a virtual sellout "for quite a while." In West Palm Beach, Hal Habib writes, "So it’s no surprise that ticket brokers and individual ticket-holders have listings for BCS tickets plastered throughout the Internet." StubHub "lists nearly 8,500 tickets ranging from $1,400 for an upper-level corner end zone seat to ... $999,999 for a 'field club' ticket with a 'possible obstructed view,' no less." Wahl said, "It’s kind of interesting because we don’t have the teams announced yet, but interest seems to be as high as any BCS Championship Game that I can remember. It could be among the most highly sought-after tickets ever" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/30).

COLD PIZZA? In Detroit, Tom Walsh wrote the "big challenge" for the Dec. 26 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field, "because of NCAA sanctions barring Ohio State and Penn State from postseason play, is that the Big Ten conference does not have enough bowl-eligible teams to supply an opponent to face a Mid-American Conference team." Therefore, the bowl will be "selecting from less-prestigious football programs with names like Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky or Louisiana Tech." Without a "big-time college football power to attract its dedicated fan base this year, the LCP Bowl must find a way to sustain momentum after a bounce-back year" in '11, when attendance jumped 42% to 46,177 for the Purdue-Western Michigan matchup. LCP Bowl CEO & Chair Ken Hoffman said, "We've got all three Detroit auto companies back on board as presenting sponsors for the first time since 2007" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/29).
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