December 17, 2013

Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium chosen over Sun Life Stadium for 2017 college championship game

College football’s new playoff system chose Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium over South Florida’s Sun Life Stadium to host the 2017 national championship.

Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Monday was chosen to host the Jan. 9, 2017, College Football Playoff National Championship Game, shutting out South Florida’s Sun Life Stadium bid — as well as bids by San Francisco (Levi’s Stadium), Jacksonville (EverBank Field), Minneapolis (Vikings Stadium) and San Antonio (Alamodome).

The College Football Playoff, which begins with the 2014-15 season and will feature the four top teams as selected by a committee, also announced Monday that Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium will host the Jan. 11, 2016, title game.

South Florida did not bid for the 2016 game, which follows the 2015 regular season, because the Orange Bowl already had been selected to host a semifinal on Dec. 31, 2015.

A disappointed, but seemingly not deterred Orange Bowl Committee chief executive officer Eric Poms said South Florida’s organizing committee would continue to bid on future title games.

The next bidding process is expected to be in the spring of 2015.

“It was a very aggressive effort, and we felt we were putting our best foot forward and fell short,” Poms said. “In the end, we’re looking forward to bidding again. It’s going to have to be a process where you debrief, learn some of the things that were right on the mark and other things you can improve upon.”

The playoff system’s executive director, Bill Hancock, gushed about South Florida and Sun Life Stadium in a teleconference Monday, but said “other cities in this bidding process offered a little more concise footprint for the event.”

Hancock also lauded South Florida as “one of the world’s great destinations and great resort areas,” but said “the hotel rates in South Florida were higher than those in the cities that were selected.”

Hancock stressed that Sun Life Stadium “was not a drawback” to the bid.

“This stadium served us well,” he said. “We love the stadium. This was not a stadium issue.”

South Florida’s effort was spread among Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and included officials from all three counties, the Orange Bowl Committee, Miami Dolphins, each county’s major tourist bureaus and the Super Bowl Host Committee.

Judge Michael M. Chavies, South Florida’s 2017 bid chairman, thanked all the participating entities and congratulated the victors in a written statement, saying his group “will continue to aggressively bid” on championship games.

In addition to South Florida’s 2015 semifinal, the Orange Bowl was also previously awarded semifinal games during the rotations in 2018-19, 2021-22 and 2024-25 — thereby eliminating the committee from bidding for the title games in ’19, ’22 and ’25.

The semifinals, through the 2025-26 season, will rotate among bowl games in Atlanta (Chick-fil-A), Dallas (Cotton), Miami (Orange), New Orleans (Sugar), Pasadena (Rose) and Phoenix (Fiesta).

Poms said the 2018 and 2020 title games would be the next ones on which South Florida’s organizing committee could focus its efforts.

The inaugural College Football Playoff national title game was already announced for Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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