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Three Texas Cities (Plus Atlanta, New Orleans) Bid For “Champions” Bowl

ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy reported last night that two more cities — Houston and San Antonio — have decided to make bids for the new “Champions” Bowl being created by the Big XII and SEC.  Those two cities join Arlington, New Orleans and Atlanta in the bidding process.

The two leagues asked 10 cities in all to bid for the new game, but to date, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix (Glendale), and Tampa have all twiddled their thumbs.  The feeling is that officials in those five cities believe Arlington and New Orleans to be such heavy favorites to land the game that they don’t even need to get involved in this auction.

The fact that Houston and San Antonio have gotten involved is clearly a plus for both the SEC and Big XII as it will drive up the price of the game.  More bidders = a better deal.  For now, it’s believed the “Champions” Bowl will partner with an existing bowl, take part in the new playoffs as a semifinal game in four years out of the 12-year plan, and kick off for the first time on January 1st, 2015.

But no one is really sure of anything.

When first announced, it was believed the two conferences would create their own new game and bid it out to a different city each year like a Super Bowl or a Final Four.  Soon after, however, the new playoff was created and the idea of rotating the game became a bit more complicated — due to semifinal tie-ins, television contracts, etc.  Not to mention the fact that existing bowls already have the infrastructure in place to pull off a big game.

Now, as messed up and complicated as the new playoff and big bowl system will be — and if you thought the BCS was confusing, you ain’t seen nothing yet — it’s still theoretically possible for the SEC and Big XII to rotate their game between two, three or even more sites.  We just wouldn’t bet on it.  Like most others, we believe Arlington, Texas and Jerry Jones have the deepest pockets and that will result in the “Champions” Bowl becoming the Cotton Bowl.

At MrSEC.com, we would still prefer the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans get the nod because it’s more centrally-located between the two conferences and its a more tourist-friendly destination… but cash will likely rule the day.

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Report: A 2-City Race To Host “Champions” Bowl (But Not The 2 Cities Everyone Expected)

From the moment the “Champions” Bowl was announced over the summer, media attention has been focused on two cities in terms of host sites: Arlington, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia.  Arlington because Jerry Jones has a huge stadium and deep pockets.  Atlanta because, well, because Atlanta bids on anything and everything the SEC is involved in and it’s hosted every major sporting event from the Super Bowl to the Final Four to the dadgum Olympics.

Even when news broke that 10 cities had been asked to bid on the game, most of the focus continued to fall on Arlington and Atlanta.

But if ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is correct, the SEC and Big XII’s plan to turn bidding for the “Champions” Bowl into a 10-city race has failed.  Instead, it’s looking like a two-city race as most initially expected.

Only Atlanta isn’t one of the two locales leading the pack.  New Orleans is.  (Amen.)

According to McMurphy’s report, because Arlington and New Orleans are such prohibitive favorites to land the “Champions” Bowl, “as many as seven of the 10 cities that received a request for a proposal may not bid on the bowl” at all.  The third city to go ahead and bid on the thing?  Atlanta.  Of course.

We suggested last week — when word leaked that 10 cities were in the running — that the SEC/Big XII were simply trying to drive up the price of the game by inviting more bidders into the auction, if you will.  The conferences asked the three cities already mentioned as well as Houston, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix (Glendale), San Antonio and Tampa to bid to host the game.  If the game were to rotate from city to city, then a metro area like Phoenix might have a shot.  But if the game is going to be a one-city-every-year event, then Glendale would seemingly have no real shot at landing the contest.  Which city leaders there apparently realize.

McMurphy states that Phoenix, Nashville and Tampa have already decided not to bid on the “Champions” Bowl.  The remaining four towns — Houston, Jacksonville, Orlando and San Antonio — are all still deciding whether to get involved or not, though “sources said most of the ‘four’ undecided cities likely won’t submit a bid because of the reality ‘that it’s a two-horse race.’”

On the positive side, we’re getting a better idea of what the “Champions” Bowl is expected to become… one bowl game.  With requests for bids going out to 10 cities, there was much speculation that the leagues might simply rotate their game on a yearly basis as was initially expected when the game was announced.  The SEC and the Big XII will be keeping all the TV and title sponsor cash — according to the leagues — so why not just put the game up for bid each year like a conference tournament, a Super Bowl or a Final Four?  That was the first stated plan.  But then came the new playoff system which will launch in 2014 along with the “Champions” Bowl.  Waters were muddied.

We spoke last week to an SEC source who told this website that the game was “still finding its legs.”  Translation: We’ll do whatever brings in the most cash, whether that’s one site or different sites every year.  But now it sounds like the options are narrowing for the SEC and Big XII.  If Atlanta is truly out, then the leagues must hope that Arlington and New Orleans throw down mondo cash in a head-to-head bidding war over who’s to become the annual host of the game (meaning the “Champions” Bowl would become the Cotton or Sugar Bowl in name).

Atlanta — for the record — should be out of the mix.  Not that it’s not a great city, but the SEC Championship Game is already held there.  Asking SEC fans to go to the same place twice in a month is a bit much.  And having Big XII teams play in the very heart of the SEC wouldn’t appear to be very fair, either.

Arlington has the cash, but it’s fast becoming the Atlanta of the Big XII.  The old Big Eight members of the Big XII have said for years that their league has been taken over by all things Texas.  Well, if the Big XII has set up shop in the Metroplex, why would the SEC be any more interested in going there than the Big XII is in going to Atlanta?

Cash, of course.

But here’s hoping the leagues do what makes the most sense.  If the game can’t/won’t be rotated between the two cities — which we would be fine with, by the way — then it should land in New Orleans permanently.  Yes, LSU is nearby.  But NOLA and Houston are the most centrally located venues for the game.  St. Louis (if it had a bowl game) and Memphis (if it weren’t viewed so unfavorably by so many) would make sense as well.  But the Big Easy trumps all of those cities when it comes to tourism infrastructure and experience hosting major, major sporting events.

If it’s a two-horse race between Arlington and New Orleans and there’s room for only one of them in the winner’s circle, here’s more hoping/wishing/praying that the latter edges the former at the wire.

But it’ll all be decided by cash.  And that would mean Arlington is still probably in the lead.  Even if it is the Big XII’s version of Atlanta.

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A Closer Look At 10 Potential “Champions” Bowl Hosts

We quickly wanted to take a closer, by-the-numbers look at the 10 cities asked by the SEC and Big XII to submit bids to host the soon-to-launch “Champions” Bowl.  We’ll do so in alphabetical order.

At the end of each city’s breakdown, we’ll also give you our “official” MrSEC.com take  on each site, revealing what we believe to be the positives and negatives associated with each location.

One thing we won’t get into is whether or not a city provides some type of homefield advantage to one league or the other.  If the two conferences have agreed upon these cities, then there’s no need to bicker over whether a site is too SEC- or Big XII-centric.  Many fans will argue over this type of thing, but if the commissioners aren’t worried about it, we won’t worry about it either.

Now, your 10 potential “Champions” Bowl host sites:

 

Atlanta

2010 Population: 420,000

Facility: Georgia Dome (71,228 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Dome

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 34, High 52

Current Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Chick-fil-A

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: Atlanta has become the hub of the SEC.  While the weather’s not great in January, the city has shown that it can host every type of major sporting event.  It wouldn’t be our choice for the game as the SEC is in danger of becoming all Atlanta’d out, but the city is definitely one of the co-favorites to land the first “Champions” Bowl.

 

Dallas (numbers for Arlington, which is most likely to host the game)

2010 Population: 365,000

Facility: Cowboys Stadium (80,000 seats… can fit 100,000+)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Retractable Roof

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 35, High 56

Current Bowl: Cotton Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: AT&T

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: Arlington is the other co-favorite to land the game.  If part of a rotation, we’re fine with that.  But if Arlington is to be the year-in, year-out home to the game, well, that’s a different story.  The Metroplex is a fine area but the weather can get nasty in January and it’s not exactly a tourist hotspot.  Still, the final decision will be all about money and Arlington — thanks to Jerry Jones — has plenty of it.

 

Houston

2010 Population: 2,099,000

Facility: Reliant Stadium (71,054 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Retractable Roof

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 45, High 63

Current Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Meineke

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: A little bit warmer weather than Arlington, Houston would be a better choice to host the game in our view.  The area even has beaches in the area for tourists, though January probably isn’t the best time for a dip in the Gulf.  Houston is also is centrally-located between the two leagues which would theoretically make travel easier for a larger number of fans.

 

Jacksonville

2010 Population: 821,000

Facility: EverBank Field (84,000 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Open Air

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 41, High 65

Current Bowl: Gator Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Taxslayer.com

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take:  Our first concern is the open air stadium.  No one wants to play in a rainy bowl game.  Our second concern is the fact that Jacksonville didn’t get high marks when it hosted its one and only Super Bowl seven years ago.  We’ll get angry emails, we know, but Jacksonville would probably be #10 on our list.

 

Nashville

2010 Population: 601,000

Facility: LP Field (68,798 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Open Air

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 29, High 47

Current Bowl: Music City Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Franklin American Mortgage

Hosted Super Bowl: No

MrSEC.com’s Take: Nashville is definitely a tourist destination with clubs, bars and live music at every turn downtown.  But the weather — an average low of 29! — and an open-air facility make this a hard sell.  Plus, the city hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl or BCS-level game before.  We don’t doubt that it could… but it hasn’t yet.

 

New Orleans

2010 Population: 343,000

Facility: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (72,003 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Dome

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 45, High 62

Current Bowl: Sugar Bowl and New Orleans Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Allstate (Sugar Bowl) and R+L Carriers (New Orleans Bowl)

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: Like Houston, New Orleans is centrally-located between the SEC and Big XII schools.  Travel would be easier for a larger group of fans.  The city has hosted Super Bowls, Final Fours, BCS title games, etc.  And there’s no better tourist destination — for adults — on the list.  If you read this, then you know New Orleans would be our pick for a permanent home to the “Champions” Bowl.

 

Orlando

2010 Population: 238,000

Facility: Florida Citrus Bowl (70,000 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Open Air

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 50, High 71

Current Bowl: Capital One Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Capital One

Hosted Super Bowl: No

MrSEC.com’s Take:  There’s no better tourist destination — for families — than Orlando and its theme parks (SeaWorld, Disney, etc).  The stadium is also due to get a nice revamp.  But the current open air setting means that rain is a possibility.  Again, who wants to play a bowl game in the rain?

 

Phoenix (numbers for Glendale, which is most likely to host the game)

2010 Population: 226,000

Facility: University of Phoenix Stadium (63,400 seats… can fit 80,000+)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Retractable Roof

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 41, High 66

Current Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Tostitos

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: Glendale isn’t located in an SEC or Big XII state but that might not be a bad thing.  Getting the game into Pac-12 country might actually help with SEC/Big XII West Coast recruiting.  Like some of the others on the list, this city would get a thumbs-up as a once-in-a-while host site.  Not as a permanent partner.

 

San Antonio

2010 Population: 1,327,000

Facility: Alamodome (65,000 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Dome

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 40, High 62

Current Bowl: Alamo Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Valero

Hosted Super Bowl: No

MrSEC.com’s Take: It’s Nashville with a little bit better weather and a roof.  Yes, it’s tourist friendly.  No, the city hasn’t proven it can host a Super Bowl.  San Antonio did, however, host the Final Four in 2008.  Gotta say, San Antonio would get a quicker “yes” from this site than Arlington would.  In fact, San Antonio would be quite high on our list overall.

 

Tampa

2010 Population: 335,000

Facility: Raymond James Stadium (65,857 seats)

Dome/Rectractable/Open: Open Air

Average Weather Jan. 1st: Low 52, High 70

Current Bowl: Outback Bowl

Current Bowl Title Sponsor: Outback

Hosted Super Bowl: Yes

MrSEC.com’s Take: Another major tourist destination.  The weather is typically warm, but the open air setting is a concern.  That said, the city has hosted big-time sporting events of every kind.  Tampa would be an obvious choice for the game.

 

Looking at this list, a few questions come to mind:

 

1.  Will the “Champions” Bowl find a permanent home or will it be in a state of constant movement?  One would assume that a constant rotation is likely.

2.  So will a city like — let’s say — Atlanta just turn the Chick-fil-A Bowl into the “Champions” Bowl in a given year?  If so, how would Chick-fil-A feel about losing its title partnership for a year?  After all, the SEC and Big XII intend to sell their own title partnership for their game.  Or would Atlanta host the Chick-fil-A Bowl and a separate “Champions” Bowl?  These are questions each city/bowl/sponsor on the list would have to wrestle with.

3.  Is the new postseason football structure going to be a jumbled mess?  Absolutely.  Access bowls.  A selection committee to seed the bowls.  A “Champions” Bowl that might change venues and name on an annual basis.  Some bowls that become playoff hosts more often than others.  All messy.

Until now, people struggled to figure out the BCS formula.  Starting in 2014, there will be a lot more strange things for fans to try and keep track of.

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SEC/Big XII Ask 10 Cities To Bid For “Champions” Bowl

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

3.  Atlanta

4.  Phoenix (likely meaning Glendale and the Cardinals’ home dome)

5.  Houston

6.  Orlando

7.  Nashville

8.  San Antonio

9.  Tampa

10.  Jacksonville

 

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.

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Report: “Champions” Bowl To Ink $80M Contract With ESPN

When it was announced earlier this month that ESPN would fork over $80 million dollars per year for the rights to broadcast the Rose Bowl, the common view was that the new SEC/Big 12 “Champions” Bowl would eventually sign a similar deal.

And that common view was apparently correct.

According to The Sports Business Journal — hefty subscription required — ESPN has agreed to pay “roughly the same rights fee” to the “Champions” Bowl as it will the Rose Bowl.  For now, the SEC and Big 12 own their game.  Take $80 million and split it down the middle each year and you have the 10 Big 12 schools set to make $4 million a piece while the SEC’s 14 schools would bring in about $2.85 million annually.

Now, there are other costs to be considered, of course, and depending on how the game partners with another bowl or bowls — the Cotton and Chick-fil-A have been mentioned most often — the full $80 million might not wind up in SEC and Big 12 coffers each and every season.  But you can bet a huge chunk of it will.

Interestingly, it’s taken The Grandaddy of Them All since 1902 to reach the $80 million mark while the Baby New Year created by the two best leagues in the BCS era has reached that level two years before it actually even comes into existence.

Somewhere Jim Delany scowls.

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Oh, Please Let The “Champions” Bowl Partner With The Sugar Bowl

Dallas or Atlanta.  Atlanta or Dallas.

As the SEC and Big 12 try to pick a new city/bowl partner for their “Champions” Bowl game, this writer wants to cast his vote — not that I’ve actually got a vote, of course — for New Orleans.

Atlanta is a fine city, but don’t SEC fans already get their fill of the Georgia Dome?  You’ve got the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games.  The Chick-fil-A Bowl.  The SEC Championship Game.  The SEC Tournament every few basketball seasons.  Atlanta is a great city, a fun city (especially if Ray Lewis isn’t in town).  Heck, it’d be a good city for the occasional college football championship game.  But the SEC is in danger of becoming all Atlanta’d out.  Plus, Big 12′ers might not be eager to make the long trip to mid-Georgia.

As for Dallas, well, the option on the table really isn’t even Dallas.  Or Fort Worth.  It’s Arlington.  And while that’s surely a nice place with some mighty hospitable folks ready to welcome the tourists, easily the biggest things going for that city are Jerry Jones’ stadium and his bank account.  In fact, Cowboys Stadium and Jones’ wallet will probably land the “Champions” Bowl.  But SEC fans might not be eager to make the long trek to mid-Texas.  And aren’t Big 12 backers leery of becoming to Metroplex-centric (a la the SEC and Atlanta)?

In this scibe’s opinion there’s only one place for the “Champions” Bowl.  It’s like a little foreign country — complete with different architecture, different cuisine, different accents, and a different culture — right in the middle of the United States.  That place is of course New Orleans.  A tourist Mecca.  So long as the fans promise to steer clear of Krystal after the game, the “Champions” Bowl should marry up with the Sugar Bowl ASAP.

The city’s location would even make it the easiest travel destination for fans of both conferences.

If you’re still not biting on New Orleans, here are 15 reasons to make the new SEC/Big 12 bowl a permanent resident of the Big Easy… provided by a frequent and recent connoisseur of the city:

 

15.  Above-ground cemeteries

You might’ve seen photos, but until you’ve driven by or toured one of these products of the area’s below-sea-level setting, you haven’t a clue as to just how freakin’ unusual they really are.

 

14.  Voodoo

While I was in the French Quarter last weekend, someone asked a New Orleans native barkeep is she would pose for a photo with his group’s souvenir Voodoo doll.  The response?  De-Nied.  The 20-something wanted no part of whatever karma or witchery might pass from the group to the doll to her.  Asking her about her response I was told, “I don’t believe much in religion, but Voodoo is a different beast.”  You won’t hear that in Arlington.

 

13.  The National World War II Museum

“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”  Have any appreciation at all for the sacrifices made by the “Greatest Generation” in the world’s last, truly global war?  Then try to go through New Orleans’ D-Day Museum without getting misty-eyed at least once.  Moving.  Very moving.

 

12.  Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall

For those with interest in a different war — and more than a few of the folks I spotted there were real “Lost Causers” — swing by this little archive.  Even if basking in Confederate mythology isn’t your idea of fun, you’ll at least come to the realization from looking at the authentic uniforms on hand that 19th-century males were roughly the size of Hobbits.

 

11.  Swamp tours

Ever been to another planet?  Take an airboat tour through the swamps and bayous and you’ll get that feeling.  Do your research and find a good tour company, though.  Don’t do the brochure-from-a-street-vendor thing.

 

10.  Jen at Finnegan’s Easy

The best barkeeper in the Quarter.  Working at a laid-back joint, Jen’s anything but.  Say something stupid and you’ll likely find yourself tossed back out onto St. Peter Street.  Trust me, though, Jen’s tops…

 

9.  Dixie Beer

Especially if she’s serving up a bottle of ice cold Dixie Beer.  After Hurricane Katrina these suds are no longer brewed in New Orleans, but they still provide a step back into the past with the same old recipe.  (Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your own taste buds.)  The college kids will be drinking their Abita, but the old school, PBR-types will be sipping Dixies and digging the local music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Jackson Square

It’s the photo op that has to be done in New Orleans.  Local artists pitch their paintings.  Local musicians make their music.  And tourists throw money at both.  All in front of beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and the famous statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of New Orleans in the War of 1812.  (Jackson went on to become president and sign into law the Indian Removal Act which should be his lasting, shameful legacy.  Sorry, Jacksonites, I’m not a fan of the man.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Zoo, aquarium and Imax

Yes, you can actually take the kids to N’awlins.  And while they’re enjoying kid-like things…

 

6.  Hand Grenades

You can enjoy the most famous product of The Tropical Isle.  Sweet, but not quite as sweet — or famous — as Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane, the Hand Grenade packs a much more powerful punch.  So be careful.  Though your girlfriend might love the melon taste, she’ll actually be pouring back some Pure Grain Alcohol.  The fact that you can’t taste said alcohol is the danger.  (I learned this lesson before a mid-90s wedding rehearsal of which I have zero recollection.)

 

5.  3-for-1s

If you’re headed to Bourbon Street in order to party, you can do so on the cheap.  While spots in Arlington and Atlanta probably offer up 2-for-1 drinks during Happy Hour, several stops on Bourbon offer 3-for-1 beers at all hours.

 

4.  Architecture

Nola isn’t all about getting boozed up, of course.  The older you get, the more you come to appreciate the unique culture of the city.  From the balconies to the small courtyards, the architecture and look of New Orleans play a big part in creating the feel of New Orleans.  (Those French and Spanish street names in the Quarter give everything a slight “are we still in America?” quality, too.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Food

Five words: Jambalaya, etouffee, muffaleta, alligator, crawfish.  Again, New Orleans is like its own little nation.

 

2.  Music

It seems that on every street and every street corner live music can be heard.  Jazz (not my favorite), zydeco (close to my favorite), and blues (my absolute favorite) are omnipresent.  From professionals in the French Quarter clubs to bucket-banging street performers, they all create the soundtrack of the city.

 

1.  It’s the right thing to do

Until Las Vegas builds a football stadium capable of hosting 80,000 fans, there’s no city in America that is more geared toward giving tourists a warm, friendly welcome than New Orleans.  Since Hurricane Katrina, the city has rebounded and thankfully maintained much of its pre-disaster personality.  But the work isn’t done and the more money that gets poured back into that city’s economy the better.  So says this lover of the Big Easy.

So for fans looking for a good time in a town that’s darn near smack in the middle of Big 12/SEC country — and for the financial benefit of one of our nation’s most unique locales — the “Champions” Bowl needs to wind up in New Orleans either by hook or by crook.  (And if Louisiana politicians get involved, that would take care of the “crook” part.)

Nola, anyone?  Nola, everyone?

Nola it is.

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Ka-Ching! ESPN To Pay Big For The Rose… And That’s Good Sign For The “Champions” Bowl

We’ll keep this one quick, but Sports Business Daily is reporting today that ESPN has agreed to pay an average of $80 million per year for the media rights to the Rose Bowl.  Read that again.  That’s $80 million per year for one game.  The deal would cover twelve years and would be a 167% jump over the $30 million the game currently brings in from television.

The publication suggests ESPN’s splurge could push the media rights for the new college football playoff from the $500 million already discussed to closer to $600 million.  Unlike the BCS which involved five games and was sold as a unit, the new system — with six bowls, two of which will serve as semifinals, and another site serving as host to the title game — is being sold off piecemeal.  Unless, of course, ESPN decides to buy up every game… which is probably likely.

If you’ve got the money to spend $80 million on the Rose Bowl, you’ve probably got the cash to go much, much further.

So what does this mean for the SEC/Big 12′s new “Champions” Bowl?  Big money.  The Rose Bowl may have tradition, a beautiful setting and a primo timeslot, but the new SEC/Big 12 game will feature squads from the two most-successful leagues of the past 15 years.  And unlike the Rose Bowl, the SEC and Big 12 — assuming they don’t partner with an existing bowl game — can bid out its game location year after year.  The Rose Bowl will have Pasadena.  The “Champions” Bowl could have any big spender it’s conference owners like.

You can also expect the Orange Bowl to try to reach some form of agreement with Notre Dame.  Like ‘em or not, the Irish are still a major television draw.  Pairing them whenever possible against the ACC champion will allow the Miami game to ask for big money, too.  Just not quite as big as the Rose Bowl and “Champions” Bowl are likely to get.

Eighty.  Million.  Per year.

Apparently the poor global economy isn’t too poor for the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

As for a football/basketball comparison, the NCAA Tournament brings in about $680 million from television money for 67 basketball games.  That’s about $10.1 million for each one of hoops’ biggest games.  The Rose Bowl will bring in about eight times that much.  By itself.

Basketball’s fun, but football is the money maker… just in case you needed further proof of why football has been driving the expansion bus the past few years.

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Music City Bowl Rep Says Playoffs Will Be Tougher On Bowls

We’ve already quoted this piece from The Tennessean once today, but Jeff Lockridge jammed so much good stuff into it we wanted to go back for seconds.  Earlier today, we told you that Scott Ramsey — the Music City Bowl prez and top dog of the Nashville Sports Council — doesn’t believe Nashville has the stadium to make a play for college football’s new championship game (when the playoffs begin in 2014).  But Ramsey also told the paper that he believes the new playoff system will kill off a few existing bowl games:

 

“If you’re not in those six (big bowls), you’re playing an exhibition game.  It used to be the championship game and then some other BCS games which held some cache.  The way this is going, it looks like a lot bigger BCS to me, which is oging to make more of those bowls below that less relevant.

They are going to argue that, ‘Oh, December 31st and January 1st is going to be a football celebration.’  If you’re a bowl, do you want to be playing on that day against a semifinal?  I don’t know. … I think we’re on the cusp of bowls that can’t financially compete just dying out in the long term over this.”

 

Let’s be clear about one thing — bowls have always just been “exhibition” games.  The Music City Bowl, for example, has never had the cachet of a BCS bowl.  What it has had is a New Year’s Eve kickoff.  That’s where Ramsey’s point comes home.

Would any bowl out there be wise to schedule a game on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day against a semifinal game?  Sure, some network looking for any piece of the pie at all would still televise the thing, but would fans choose to stay home and watch a semifinal game rather than follow their own team on the road to a second-tier bowl?  Obviously, not all bowls are played on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, but those that are typically bring in more tourist dollars to their towns than the non-New Year’s games.  So is moving financially viable for those games?

The new playoff won’t make the bowls less meaningful.  They’re meaningless exhibition designed to bring tourism to an area and to promote said area to a large television audience.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The new playoff system will, however, force a few bowls to decide whether or not it’s worth going up against one of the big six bowls head-to-head.

Even more worrisome for bowl officials like Ramsey must be the potential success of the new “Champions” Bowl which — if it doesn’t merge in some way with an existing game — will be run by the SEC and Big 12 with the majority of profits staying right in house.  If that experiment works, you can bet more leagues will start fielding their own bowls.  And that will really change the college football bowl landscape.

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Texas AD Says SEC Has “A Sliver Of The East Side” Of Texas

While the SEC Meetings are taking place in Destin, Florida today, the Big 12 meetings are underway in Kansas City.  Asked about the possibility of the new SEC-Big 12 “Champions” Bowl taking place in Texas because the SEC now has a presence there, University of Texas AD DeLoss Dodds responded:

 

“They have a sliver of the east side.”

 

Ouch.

One must wonder if/when his own league adds Florida State to its roster of schools whether or not Dodds will say the Big 12 has gained “a sliver” of real estate on the Florida panhandle.

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