Just to throw my two cents in, I'm hoping for Nashville. A great party city with a nice venue. Oh, and that German restaurant the Gersthaus is none too shabby either. Best breakfast buffet anywhere in the country.
At first, the new “Champions” Bowl featuring the winners of the SEC and the Big XII — when they’re not in the national playoffs — was expected to be its own new game. Then word trickled out from both conferences suggesting the game could simply partner with an existing bowl. At that point, the Cotton Bowl and Jerry Jones’ mammoth Cowboys Stadium became everyone’s favorite to land/become the “Champions” Bowl.
Ah, but yesterday ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that SEC/Big XII officials had requested bids for the game from 10 cities:
1. Dallas (which likely means Arlington and Cowboys Stadium)
2. New Orleans
4. Phoenix (likely meaning Glendale and the Cardinals’ home dome)
8. San Antonio
While someone in the SEC office told me the game is “still finding its legs,” this list suggests that the two conferences want to bid out their game each year and simply partner with whatever bowl exists in the city that bids the most cash.
According to Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News, the leagues are willing to accept a lump sum payout from the bowls/cities or some sort of new revenue-sharing model. This would mean that the bowls/cities would take out a management fee to actually run the bowl and then split the rest of the revenue — at some percentage — with the SEC and the Big XII. I spoke to two bowl officials last week who suggested the bowls involved would want some portion of the $80 million per year television contract the leagues have reportedly inked with ESPN. Solomon reports, however, that the conferences won’t be sharing that cash… or revenue brought in from a title sponsor. (The exception being when the “Champions” Bowl is part of the national playoffs and the proceeds are split with other leagus.)
But if a bowl gets none of the television money, has to give up its own title partner for a year, and can only keep a percentage of the game revenue — tickets, concessions, parking, etc — over and above a built-in management fee, then why bid? While hosting the SEC/Big XII “champions” would be a nice draw for viewers and tourists ready to pay higher ticket prices, a game like the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, for example, might actually stand to make more money with its usual Big XII/Pac-12 middle-of-the-pack game. In that case, it would be paying out its usual lump sums to those leagues, it would still be able to pocket the cash from corporate sponsor Valero, and it would be able to keep a chunk of ESPN television money.
From a “wow” factor, landing the “Champions” Bowl would be a win for any bowl. But from the bowl officials I spoke with, the cash factor wouldn’t be nearly so great. So it will be interesting to see which of the above cities decide to make bids. You can bet that ego will play a role in who does and doesn’t and that — again — leads back to Jerry Jones and Arlington.
As for the cities invited to bid, six are in SEC states, three are in Texas (a state shared by both conferences), and Phoenix is outside both leagues’ footprints (though the Big XII has a tie-in with the Fiesta Bowl as part of the current BCS set-up).
It’s hard to imagine some of the cities on the list actually landing the game, but it certainly makes sense for the conferences to ask 10 cities to bid. The more cities involved, the more competition for the game and, in the end, the more cash the leagues will pocket from the winning bidder.