SEC championship remains in Atlanta at least through 2026
ATLANTA (AP) The Southeastern Conference football championship game is staying in Atlanta for at least a dozen more years.
The league announced a new 10-year agreement on Tuesday to play the game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a $1.4 billion retractable-roof facility under construction next door to the Georgia Dome. The new stadium is to open in 2017.
The agreement gives the SEC the option of adding two successive five-year extensions, which would keep the game in Atlanta through 2036.
The SEC championship game will be played the next two years at the Georgia Dome, its home since 1994. The 23-year-old dome will be demolished after the new stadium opens.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is serving mainly as the home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, as well as the city's new MLS expansion soccer team, Atlanta United.
In addition, the new stadium has been selected to host the 2020 Final Four and is bidding for the 2018 national college football championship as well as the Super Bowl in either 2019 or 2020.
''Atlanta has served as an outstanding host for the SEC football championship game for more than two decades and has been the perfect venue for one of the premier events in college sports,'' SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.
The SEC championship game was played at Birmingham's Legion Field for two years before moving to Atlanta in 1994. The last 19 title games have been sellouts.
''We are tremendously excited to continue the SEC legacy in Atlanta in the years to come,'' said Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons and Atlanta United. ''The SEC championship game is a premier sporting event and is representative of the marquee events we will host at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We look forward to working with the SEC toward their goal of producing national championship winners.''