College Football: Minnesota bids for 2020 championship game
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Gophers can field a championship football team by 2020, Gov. Mark Dayton wants them to feel right at home. Dayton on Monday officially announced a bid to host the College Football Playoff championship game in the Vikings' ne...
MINNEAPOLIS - If the Gophers can field a championship football team by 2020, Gov. Mark Dayton wants them to feel right at home.
Dayton on Monday officially announced a bid to host the College Football Playoff championship game in the Vikings’ new $1 billion stadium, scheduled to open by fall 2016 and already chosen to house the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 NCAA tournament Final Four.
“It’s worked twice,” Dayton said. “Why not go for the trifecta?”
Minnesota tried and failed two years ago to convince college football to hold what is in effect its biggest bowl game in the least likely of locales. Bowl games are generally warm-weather affairs aimed at attracting winter-weary alumni and fans, so selling the charms of Minneapolis in January will be an uphill climb.
The 2016 title game will be in Arizona, the 2017 game in Tampa, Fla.
A successful bid also will require the kinds of tax breaks that stirred controversy when the Super Bowl bid was approved last fall. On Monday, in fact, the state Senate voted down an attempt to repeal tax concessions already promised to the NFL.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which runs the Vikings stadium, said that what the game’s organizers want isn’t yet clear.
The College Football Playoff is not an NCAA-sanctioned championship and is instead run by the 10 biggest conferences, including the Big Ten, which splits the majority of the playoff’s revenue.
Scot Housh, co-chair of the state’s campaign for the game, said he expects a successful bid will require $8 million to $12 million in private contributions, comparable to the winning Final Four bid.
Chris Polincinki, the other co-chair, said hosting the event would have “a significant, positive impact to our region.” He said the economic impact of the inaugural playoff championship in Dallas this year was estimated at more than $300 million.
Such figures, however, vary widely among economists, and there is no estimate for the Twin Cities yet.
In addition to the game, the bid will focus on the area’s ability to accommodate concerts, parties and other side events. Taken together, it will “tout the virtues of living in Minneapolis, even in January.”
The bid is due May 27, with a decision due this fall. The process is for 2018, 2019 and 2020; Minnesota is seeking consideration for only the final year because of the other events already committed to the building.
There is no set list of other contenders at this point. Kelm-Helgen said she expects competition from southern cities with a history of college football bowl games such as Houston and Dallas.
Organizers “have given a very strong signal that they’re willing to go other places,” Kelm-Helgen said, and was told they would give serious consideration to “a state like Minnesota.”
Among those on hand for Monday’s announcement were Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren and Gophers football coach Jerry Kill.
Kill wasn’t as bullish as Dayton in predicting a Gophers title team, but said the event - already the most-watched cable-TV program ever, in its first year - will only continue to grow.
“If you watch the NFL and college football and you watch TV, it just keeps going,” he said, tracing an upward trajectory with his finger.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service