TAMPA — Tampa is one of two finalists to host Division I college football's first championship game in its four-team playoff format, a Bowl Championship Series official confirmed Tuesday.
The 2015 title game will be the first under a new four-team playoff to determine the national championship. The winners of the Rose Bowl, played in Pasadena, Calif., and the Sugar Bowl, played in New Orleans, will meet in the title game, set for Jan. 12, 2015.
That game will be played either in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium or Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, according to Michael Kelly, BCS chief operating officer. BCS leadership will make a decision at its annual meeting in Pasadena from April 23-25, Kelly said.
ESPN reported Tuesday that Arlington is a "virtual lock" to win the bid, and its status as a heavy favorite prompted several other interested communities to not bother submitting bids.
"It's an event that we're interested in, and if not the first year, we're interested in the near future," said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the non-profit which submitted the bid with the help of the Tampa Sports Authority, manager of Raymond James Stadium.
"Having hosted four Super Bowls, several NCAA championships and the Republican National Convention, I think we've proven to be a great host," Higgins said.
"We're extremely excited about the opportunity and we're rooting for Tampa," said Eric Hart, president and CEO of the Tampa Sports Authority. "Let's just see what the vote brings."
Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]