Tampa wants shot at NCAA football title game
TAMPA -- If the site of future college football national championship games goes up for bid, count Tampa as another city very interested in hosting the pinnacle of a new postseason playoff.
"Especially knowing how special a national championship game would be, we certainly want to be a part of that dialogue," said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, which has helped the city host a Super Bowl, women's Final Four and Frozen Four in the past four years. "If and when the opportunity presented itself for a neutral-site national championship game, it's something we'd work diligently to put the community's best foot forward, for sure."
College football is expected to utilize a four-team playoff after the 2014 season, with semifinals and finals likely to be played on neutral sites, either pulling from the current BCS bowls -- in Miami, New Orleans, Tempe and Pasadena -- or taking an open bid process from other top venues, with Tampa and Dallas among the most logical outside candidates. Northern domed arenas like Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, Detroit's Ford Field and St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome told ESPN last month that they would also be interested in bidding for the much anticipated game.
Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls, as well as NCAA championships in men's and women's basketball and men's hockey, and would be a strong candidate for the same reasons it has done well with the NFL's championship -- great weather, a strong venue in Raymond James Stadium and the hotels and diverse entertainment options to make the game a coveted destination for fans.
"Our community has the ability to really step up and really wrap its arms around major events like this," Higgins said. "Naturally, I think not only should we be in the mix, I'm hopeful that we would be."
No timetable has been set for establishing a specific model for a college football playoff -- some key figures prefer semifinals on college campuses -- and only then would the NCAA begin the process of selecting sites for the games, which could rotate around the country like the Final Four, or the current football BCS championship.