Atlanta will forgo a bid to host college football’s national championship game for the 2015 season when proposals for that event are due Friday. Instead, Atlanta sports and tourism officials plan an aggressive bid to bring the title game here at the end of the 2017 season, the first in the new Falcons stadium.
“Strategically, we think the stadium will really give us a differentiation point to win the bid for that game in January 2018,” Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, said.
The new four-team College Football Playoff begins in the 2014 season, with the first championship game scheduled for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The next two championship games will be awarded in November.
Stokan said a large convention already booked for Atlanta from Jan. 8-15, 2016, left an insufficient number of available hotel rooms to meet bid requirements for the 2015 season’s championship game. Atlanta was not eligible to bid for the 2016 season’s title game because the Chick-fil-A Bowl will host a national semifinal that season, and College Football Playoff rules prohibit a city from hosting a semifinal and the championship game in the same season.
Even aside from those factors, Atlanta might have opted to synchronize its bid with the opening of the new stadium, Stokan said.
“We think playing it in the new state-of-the-art facility will be a natural,” he said.
A group including representatives of the bowl, Falcons, city, state, Georgia World Congress Center Authority, Atlanta Sports Council and Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau signed off on the strategy in a conference call Thursday.
“Atlanta is a world-class city with a strong track record of success in hosting major events,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “We hope our new stadium will serve as a centerpiece for the (2017 season’s) National Championship Game, as well as in many of the ensuing years.”
Construction of the $1 billion retractable-roof stadium is scheduled to begin in April and to be completed in March 2017. The Georgia Dome then will be demolished.
Blank previously said he expects Atlanta to bid to host the 2019 Super Bowl — the first Super Bowl that the new stadium would be eligible to host. That is the Super Bowl at the end of the 2018 season, which would be the new stadium’s second NFL season in operation. NFL rules don’t permit a stadium to host the Super Bowl in its first season open.
The College Football Playoff organization expects to receive multiple bids Friday for the 2015 and 2016 seasons’ championship games. Tampa, Fla., plans to bid for each of them after losing out to Arlington for the inaugural title game of the playoff era.
Other cities that reportedly will bid for the 2015 season’s championship game include New Orleans, Glendale, Ariz., and Jacksonville, Fla. Other bidders for the 2016 season’s title game reportedly will include the Minnesota Vikings’ and San Francisco 49ers’ new stadiums, as well as Miami and San Antonio.
The playoff organization has not said when it will seek bids to host the 2017 season’s championship game.
The four-team playoff will replace the controversial BCS system for crowning college football’s national champion. The BCS is in place for the final time this season.