Pac-12 Title Game’s Potential Neutral Sites
5. Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver)
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said last November that it would be at least a few more years until the conference title game would move to a neural location, the rationale being a more “typical football atmosphere” and “increased ticket sales.” Alas, the lackluster excitement for the first two editions of the game have largely disproved that theory. Should the neutral-site title game come sooner rather than later, here’s how we rank the potential sites.
New Mile High has hosted the “Rocky Mountain Showdown” between Colorado and Colorado State every year but one since 2006, so it knows a thing or two about hosting a college game. Plus, it’s location in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains falls in line with the Pac-12’s recent expansion to include both the Buffaloes and Utah.
Alas, Denver is a long way for most teams to travel with the exception of CU, for whom it could be a long time before it competes for a conference championship.
4. CenturyLink Field (Seattle)
The home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks is one of the finest football stadiums around, is in a great city and was Washington’s temporary home during the 2012 season. (It also hosted the Stanford-Washington State game earlier this year.)
But its Pacific Northwest location would make the chances of a cold, wet Pac-12 title game pretty high (Seattle in December is characterized by both of those). It’d also make for a heavily pro-Pac-12 North crowd, as most Pac-12 South fans probably wouldn’t bother making the trip.
3. University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
The annual site of the Fiesta Bowl as well as host to the 2007 and 2011 BCS title games is a fan-friendly stadium in terms of modern accoutrements and weather. What student fan wouldn’t love a pre-first semester finals trip to the desert for some sun and football?
Unfortunately, Glendale has the reverse problem of Seattle hosting the game: Pac-12 South teams would love it but the game would be a long flight for teams in the north.
2. Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
If Scott and his Pac-12 colleagues want to make a statement concerning the magnitude of their conference title game, hosting it at college football’s most iconic stadium would be a reasonable place to start. Heck, legendary play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson (who lives within a stone’s throw of the stadium) could come out of retirement to call the inaugural game.
Pasadena is also located close to the geographic center of the conference and in a great city that any fan would love to experience over a weekend. Then again, the last thing the Pac-12 wants is the resumption of a perceived bias in favor of UCLA and/or USC, the former of whom could potentially play host to a title game on its home field.
1. Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA)
There’s so much that the future home of the San Francisco 49ers - estimated completion date: June 2014 - has working in its favor as a potential, future home of the Pac-12 title game.
Being halfway up the Pacific Coast, the San Francisco Bay Area is a natural destination for all Pac-12 teams. Indeed, the conference’s headquarters are in Walnut Creek, just an hour’s drive away from the future Levi’s Stadium site. The weather is mild and the Bay Area is always a tourist attraction. And the Cal-Oregon game to be played at Levi’s Stadium next October 24th is already getting a ton of attention.
So what better way to ring in the era of the neutral-site, Pac-12 title game than by hosting it in a gleaming new stadium in its inaugural year? Perhaps another poorly attended title game this year will persuade Larry Scott and others that this is a great idea.