NEW ORLEANS, La. (WCBI/ESPN) — The Sugar Bowl in New Orleans will be the site of the new Champions Bowl between the SEC and Big 12, the leagues announced Tuesday night.
Earlier Tuesday, ESPN first reported the SEC and Big 12 had chosen the Sugar Bowl over the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Two weeks ago, SEC commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com that those cities were the two finalists.
Sources said one of the factors why the Sugar Bowl was selected was the SEC’s long history in New Orleans. An SEC team played in the inaugural Sugar Bowl in 1935 and SEC teams have been a staple with the bowl game ever since.
“New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl are synonymous with postseason college football. For many years, fans have enjoyed the color and pageantry that New Orleans offers,” Slive said. “The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has hosted many Super Bowls, Sugar Bowls and National Championship Games and having teams from the Big 12 and the SEC in a post-season college football game together only adds to this list. We look forward to competing against the Big 12 as a new championship tradition begins on New Year’s Day.”
Besides New Orleans and Arlington, the other cities that submitted bids for the Champions game were Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio.
The game will take the name of the Sugar Bowl as the “Champions Bowl” name was just a temporary placeholder.
The first edition of the new Sugar Bowl between the champions of the SEC and Big 12 will be Jan. 1, 2015. If the SEC or Big 12 champion advances to the national semifinals, each conference would then provide another team for the Sugar Bowl.
“From the moment this game was announced, there has been tremendous excitement associated with the collaboration between these two conferences,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “That excitement is reflected in the bids received to host this game.
“There were great cities, attractive destinations, and impressive venues to consider. Now Big 12 fans can look forward to a New Year’s tradition and coming to New Orleans to support their team. We are thrilled about our long-term association with our SEC colleagues and to be in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.”
During the 14-year history of the Bowl Championship Series, the Big 12 and SEC lead the nation with 11 seasons in which each conference has had at least one team ranked in the top four of the final BCS standings.
ESPN will pay $80 million a year to televise the Sugar Bowl, sources said. That’s the same amount ESPN will pay annually for the Rose Bowl. The Orange Bowl is expected to cost $55 million, sources said.
The Sugar Bowl also will be part of the semifinal rotation during college football’s 12-year four-team playoff deal, starting after the 2014 regular season. Other bowls announced in the semifinal rotation are the Rose (Pasadena, Calif.) and Orange (Miami).
Sources said the other three bowls in the semifinal rotation are expected to be the Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Chick-fil-A (Atlanta) and Cotton (Arlington, Texas). Each of the six bowls is expected to host four semifinals during the 12-year period.
The commissioners also discussed the possibility of adding a seventh access bowl, but sources told ESPN last month the likelihood of the game has decreased.
Ten cities initially received a “request for proposal” for the opportunity to bid on hosting the Champions bowl game. However, five of those cities — Phoenix, Tampa, Nashville, Orlando and Jacksonville — opted not to bid because Arlington and New Orleans were such heavy favorites.