SBJ/September 26-October 2, 2011/Colleges

Pac-12 pegs team to handle title game logistics

The Pac-12 Conference has hired a team of experts to produce its first football championship.

Unlike other FBS conferences where championship games are awarded through competitive bids, the Pac-12 will stage its title game at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the best record in conference games. Depending on how the season unfolds, the site may not be decided until five days before the Dec. 2 championship. If the Pac-12’s two divisional champions have the same conference record, the final BCS standings released Nov. 27 would serve as the tiebreaker to identify which stadium will play host to the game.

To meet that challenge, Jim Steeg, a consultant and former NFL executive whom the Pac-12 hired as the event’s director, selected a group of 10 companies and individuals that have been a part of 44 Super Bowls, eight Olympic Games and 20 college bowl games.

The group will start making site visits to 11 stadiums next month. They don’t have to visit Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum because Southern Cal, its tenant, is ineligible for the championship game. As the season progresses, the group will focus on the five to six schools with the best chance to compete for the conference title, Steeg said.

One issue involves signage. For the title game, the Pac-12 requires that all existing advertising inside the stadium gates be replaced with signs displaying brands of the event’s four founding sponsors. (Those deals have not been announced).

It could be tricky should California or Washington reach the title game. This season, those two schools play home games at AT&T Park and CenturyLink Field, respectively, while their on-campus stadiums undergo renovations. Those major league facilities have more corporate signs than a typical college football facility and the Pac-12 would have to work around those deals, Steeg said.

In addition, Rose Bowl Stadium, home of UCLA, has new video boards with advertising that must remain exposed, Steeg said.

Gameday Merchandising is handling both on-site retail operation and wholesale distribution, and setting up shop on short notice will not be an issue, said Alan Fey, Gameday’s president. The Denver-based firm runs retail at Cal and Oregon State and manages team stores in the Pac-12 territory of Phoenix for the Diamondbacks and Suns.

The Pac-12’s other title game partners include Big Screen Networks, Infinite Scale Design Group, Shoreline Publishing Group, Wide Angle Productions for game entertainment, SparkyJax for event production and Weldon, Williams and Lick for ticketing.

Super Bowl field director Ed Mangan is in charge of field services and Delta Air Lines will provide the team charters. Paul Olden, public address announcer for the New York Yankees, will handle the same duties for the Pac-12 championship.
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