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Volume 25 No. 128
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CFP Final Could Be Affected By Poor Ticket Sales, Disinterest In Bay Area

As "lackluster ticket sales" generate criticism that the choice to host the CFP National Championship at Levi's Stadium was "unwise, college football's hierarchy insists it's delighted to be here," according to Elliott Almond of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. CFP Exec Dir Bill Hancock said, "We decided this was the place for it. It had a college feel." Hancock added that the exposure for players from the South to the "center of technology is the kind of footprint the CFP wants to leave." Hancock: "It is going to work out well for us in a lot of ways that aren't going to be visible." However, Almond writes in the pro sports-focused Bay Area market, college football "doesn't take a back seat," it "takes a nosebleed seat." The CFP title game is "more likely to hurt, rather than help, the 49ers' balance sheet," as the team "could lose as much" as $10M on a game estimated to cost $25M to produce. However, 49ers President Al Guido's indicated that "one-off financial loss could lead to future profits by attracting more big events with community backing" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 1/4).

Some feel that the the pro sports-focused Bay Area market is not the ideal place to bring the CFP Final
Photo: VICKI THOMPSON

BAY AREA BOREDOM: The AP's Paul Newberry writes on the weekend before one of the country's "biggest sporting events, the host city appeared to have hit the snooze button." It is "hard to understand why the powers-that-be decided on the Bay Area." Newberry: "College football is no big deal in this part of the world." The game feels "more like an afterthought, at least in the buildup" (AP, 1/7). In Portland, Ken Goe wrote much of the country "checked out when the 'playoff' field was announced." A more "inclusive playoff with teams representing the entire country would allow story lines to develop in a way this one does not." Goe: "Could [the CFP] have landed in a place with less generic interest in college football than the Bay Area? I don't think so." College football is "trending toward becoming a regional sport" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/6).

TICKETS, PLEASE: THE ATHLETIC's Stewart Mandel wrote having "lived here for seven years, I know the Bay Area's apathy for college football," and how "expensive it is to fly here and stay here." Mandel: "Never would I have imagined that tickets ... would be listed on sites like StubHub for barely 25 percent of face value." After "bottoming out at as low as $125" late last week, ticket prices "began to climb back up this weekend." Capacity for tonight is 71,000, of which 43,000 seats "go to the participating schools and conferences, 11,000 to the general public and host committee and the rest to television, sponsors and suite-holders." At times this past week, there have been nearly 10,000 seats "on the secondary market" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/6).

CULTURE WARS: USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer in a front-page piece writes the college football "cultural gap seems to have gotten more pronounced as the nation's political divides deepened, and the championship game provides an especially stark example of the distance in between, literally and otherwise." Viewership, attendance and on-field results "show the sport is still dominated by much more politically red areas." Washington is the only top-30 team in average attendance this season from "west of Kansas." Teams from the South have "won 12 of the past 13 national championships." Historically "rural and agricultural parts of the Midwest and South" have helped "build fan bases over generations where no pro teams competed for their attention." Former college football coach Jackie Sherrill said the West is "never going to be on equal playing ground" with the South in college football, which "comes back to culture" (USA TODAY, 1/7).

JUST IN CASE: ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that the ACC's football conference championship game contract with the city of Charlotte, which runs through '30, includes an "out clause that accounts for the possibility of a change to the postseason format should conference title games ever be eliminated." ESPN.com's Heather Dinich noted while the ACC has been "happy with both the playoff and its conference championship game, league officials wanted to have some flexibility in the lengthy contract in case the postseason ever changed" (ESPN.com, 1/6).