Atlanta and at least four other cities submitted bids this week to host the Champions Bowl, a new college football postseason game between SEC and Big 12 teams.
Atlanta’s bid is a 100-page document “that answers all the questions and hopefully puts our best foot forward,” Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, said Wednesday.
Still, “we know we are an underdog” in the bidding, Stokan said.
That’s because Atlanta already hosts -– and wants to continue to host — the SEC Championship game annually. The SEC might be reluctant to put back-to-back events in the same city, and the Big 12 might be reluctant to put the new event on what could be regarded as an SEC home field.
The bowl begins with the 2014 season.
Other cities known to have submitted bids by Wednesday’s deadline are Arlington, Texas, site of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium; New Orleans, which has long ties to the SEC through the Sugar Bowl; Houston; and San Antonio. Several other cities declined invitations from the SEC and Big 12 to bid.
Arlington and New Orleans are considered the clear frontrunners.
Cowboys Stadium has a capacity, including standing room, of 100,000-plus, meaning it potentially can generate more ticket revenue than any other bidder’s venue.
The SEC and Big 12 will retain revenue from television and title-sponsorship rights, leaving ticket sales and local non-title sponsorships as the main revenue streams for the bowl’s host organization.
The key in assembling bids was figuring out how much money could be generated from those streams and included in financial guarantees to the conferences.
“That is the $64,000 question,” said Stokan, who would not divulge terms of the Atlanta bid.
If Atlanta were to win the bidding, the game would be played in the Georgia Dome for at least the first few years and then move to the proposed new Falcons stadium if it is built.
The Champions Bowl, which will be renamed in conjunction with its host, will join the Rose and Orange as bowls guaranteed to host national semifinal games four times in the first 12 years of the college football playoff, which also begins with the 2014 season.
Three other bowls will be chosen to join the semifinal rotation, and if Atlanta does not land the Champions Bowl, Stokan said the city will pursue another spot in the semis. The city also plans to bid for the national title game.
Stokan said Atlanta’s Champions Bowl bid described the city’s infrastructure, its experience with big events, the planned move of the College Football Hall of Fame here and Atlanta-based corporations’ history of advertising around college football.
The plan is for the SEC and Big 12 champions to meet in the bowl except when either or both of them are are playing national semifinal games elsewhere. At such times, the conference champ would be replaced in the bowl by another team from its league.