Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday was chosen to host the Jan. 8, 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, shutting out South Florida’s Sun Life Stadium bid — as well as bids by Houston (Texans’ NRG Stadium) and Santa Clara, California (49ers’ Levi Stadium).
The $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will have a retractable roof, is currently under construction next to the Georgia Dome and will be the home of the Atlanta Falcons beginning in 2017.
Also chosen on Wednesday to host national championship games: Santa Clara in 2019 and New Orleans in 2020.
South Florida did not bid on those games because Sun Life Stadium is hosting a National Championship semifinal game on New Year’s Eve 2018 leading into the 2019 title game. Sun Life also is a candidate for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls — the winning sites for those to be announced next May.
The selection was made Wednesday morning in Rosemont, Illinois, through a vote by the commissioners of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and Notre Dame.
The South Florida college national championship bid, formally presented by the 2018 South Florida College Football Playoff Championship Bid Committee, was spread among Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and included officials from all three counties, the Orange Bowl Committee, Miami Dolphins and each county’s major tourist bureaus.
In 2013, South Florida also lost its attempt to host the Jan. 9, 2017 CFP title game when Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium was chosen as host.
Tampa’s proximity to South Florida hurt the chances of South Florida getting the bid. College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Wednesday that the CFP wants to move the title games around to different areas.
This season, the Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium will be one of two bowls to host a College Football playoff national semifinal on Thursday, Dec. 31.
The other Dec. 31 semifinal is the Cotton Bowl, with the national championship played Monday, Jan. 11, in Glendale, Arizona.
The Orange Bowl has also been awarded national championship semifinal games on New Year’s Eve 2021 leading into the 2022 title game; and New Year’s Eve 2024 leading into the 2025 national title game.
South Florida would also be able to place future bids for national championship games in 2021, 2023, 2024 and 2026.