Falcons stadium in Atlanta is scheduled to open in 2017.
Photo: Atlanta Falcons
Photo: Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta prepares bid for college football title game

Atlanta will submit a bid this month to bring college football’s national championship game to the new Falcons stadium in January 2018.

“We’re in the process of organizing a proposal to host the event,” Atlanta Sports Council executive director Dan Corso said.

The proposal is due to College Football Playoff officials by May 27.

Playoff officials also will accept bids at that time for the championship games in January 2019 and January 2020. But Atlanta will seek only the 2018 game, Corso said.

The city is forgoing a pitch for the 2019 event because of plans to bid for that year’s Super Bowl instead. And Atlanta isn’t eligible to host the college football championship game in 2020 because the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will have a national semifinal game two weeks before.

The four-team College Football Playoff debuted last season, with its inaugural championship game held at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12. Sites already have been chosen for the championship games the next two seasons – Glendale, Ariz., and Tampa, Fla., respectively.

The winning bidders for the three subsequent championship games will be announced this fall, according to playoff officials.

Cities that have expressed interest in bidding for the same game as Atlanta include Miami; Santa Clara, Calif., site of the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium; San Antonio; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Charlotte.

Atlanta’s bid committee consists of representatives of the Sports Council, the Falcons, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Peach Bowl, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and Georgia Tech.

If the long-planned bid is successful, the game would cap the first year in the new retractable-roof downtown stadium, which is under construction next to the Georgia Dome and slated for completion in early 2017.

The college football championship game is part of a trifecta, along with the Super Bowl and the Final Four, that local sports and tourism boosters hope to bring to the stadium in its first few years.

The stadium landed its first marquee event last year when the NCAA decided to play the college basketball men’s Final Four there in 2020.

The local operating budget for the Final Four is $8.5 million, which will come from a portion of the city’s hotel-motel tax that is designated for attracting major conventions and sporting events. The same funding source would be tapped to host the college football championship game.

The NFL is scheduled to decide later this month which cities will be invited to bid for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The new stadium is expected to ensure Atlanta a spot on that bid list. The NFL’s extensive bid process then will last a year, with the league’s 32 team owners scheduled to vote in May 2016 on the host cities.

Minneapolis, where a new Vikings stadium is slated to open next year, is trying for the same trifecta as Atlanta. Already awarded the 2018 Super Bowl and 2019 Final Four, Minnesota officials announced this week a bid for the 2020 college football championship game.

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