Atlanta, Santa Clara, New Orleans to host college title game
Atlanta, New Orleans and Santa Clara, California, were selected to host College Football Playoff national championship games from a group of nine cities and regions.
The Atlanta Falcons' new stadium, which will open in 2017, will be the site of the championship game scheduled for Jan. 8, 2018. Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, will host the January 2019 title game. The New Orleans Superdome will be the site of the January 2020 championship game.
The playoff management committee, comprised of the FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director, also considered bids from South Florida (Sun Life Stadium), Houston (NRG Stadium), Minneapolis (U.S. Bank Stadium), Detroit (Ford Field), Charlotte, North Carolina (Bank of American Stadium) and San Antonio (Alamodome).
''Any of the nine could have hosted this event,'' College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said.
Bidding communities were guaranteeing between $13 million and $18 million to the College Football Playoff.
This season's championship game will be held Jan. 11 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the home of the NFL's Cardinals and the site of the Fiesta Bowl. Next season's championship game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the home of the NFL's Buccaneers .
Each of the first six championship games will be held in different states.
''I think it's important that fans in as many parts of the country as possible get a chance to see this event,'' Hancock said.
Though none of games will be played in northern cities. Hancock said they were given serious consideration, but there were logistical stumbling blocks for both Minneapolis and Detroit.
Minnesota is hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 and the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in 2019 and there was some concern among the management committee about placing the game in a city that was coming off two straight years of hosting major events.
''Given this climate and given the other cities, we didn't feel like we needed to go back-to-back-to-back,'' Hancock said. ''It was a significant factor for them.''
He said Detroit's bid for the 2019 game was hampered by the city's convention center not being available because of an auto show.
Atlanta (Peach Bowl) and New Orleans (Sugar Bowl) already host bowl games that are part of the playoff semifinal rotation. Atlanta also is bidding to host the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
''The opportunity to play in the brand new stadium, state-of-the-art stadium'' was one of the main reasons Atlanta was chosen, Hancock said.
Hancock said the longtime relationship between the Sugar Bowl and the conferences, which dates back to the Bowl Championship Series, was not a deciding factor in awarding the 2020 game to New Orleans.
''An excellent bid that people worked very hard on,'' Hancock said. ''A community people have enjoyed in the past. Concise, walkable downtown footprint.''
Levi's Stadium in Northern California will host the Super Bowl in February, is the home to the Pac-12 championship game and has held an outdoor NHL game and WrestleMania.
''We came together as a region to get it done. Super Bowl 50 helped pave the way,'' said Al Guido, San Francisco 49ers chief operating officer. ''We've proved ourselves as a venue that can host major events and can do really big capacities and bring economic impact into the region.''
Hancock said College Football Playoff representatives will be onsite during the lead up to the Super Bowl to check out transportation, hotels and stadium operations.
''We're going to learn a great deal from that Super Bowl,'' Hancock said.
Northern California has never hosted a college football championship game.
''It shows we're serious in our desire to move this around,'' Hancock said.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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