On Monday, the sites for the first three title games produced by the new four-team College Football Playoff in the Football Bowl Subdivision were announced by the NCAA. The inaugural game will take place in January of 2015 in Arlington, Texas, followed by the 2016 game in Glendale, Arizona and the 2017 game in Tampa, Florida. The 2017 FBS National Championship game will be played at Raymond James Stadium, which primarily serves as the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Tampa Bay Sports Commission's bid for the 2017 game beat out five other cities that were in the running: San Francisco/Santa Clara, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Miami. The rich history of Super Bowls and other high-profile sporting events hosted in the Bay area and at Raymond James Stadium surely played a part in the selection of Tampa for this groundbreaking occasion.
“The Tampa Bay area has a long history of hosting big sporting events," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer. "We are thrilled that our community will once again be showcased in the national spotlight and share in the excitement generated by the NCAA National Championship Game."
The Tampa Bay area has been the site for four Super Bowls, most recently Super Bowl XLIII at the end of the 2008 NFL season. Two of those four have been held at Raymond James Stadium since its inaugural season of 1998, both to outstanding reviews. The stadium is also host each year to the Outback Bowl played on New Year's Day, and is the gameday home of the nearby University of South Florida.
Raymond James Stadium is designed to hold 65,000 fans but can be expanded to fit closer to 75,000, as has been the case during its two Super Bowls. It is one of the most recognizable sporting venues in the country, thanks largely to Buccaneers Cove in the north end zone, which features a 103-foot pirate ship with cannons that fire when the Buccaneers score.
As a popular tourist destination and a sports-minded community, the Bay area has been the choice for many other championship events at a variety of venues. The NCAA men's basketball tournament has come to the Bay area for opening rounds three times in the last decade – 2003, 2008 and 2011 – while the women's tournament played its Final Four in Tampa Bay in 2008 and will do so again in 2015. The Frozen Four – the NCAA's ice hockey championship – was so successful in Tampa in 2012 that it's coming back in 2016 despite no previous history in the South. The ACC held its football championship in Tampa for two straight years (2008, 2009) while the SEC played its basketball tournament there in 2009.
The 2017 college football title game is the latest feather in the Bay area's sporting camp, and, as TBSC Executive Director Rob Higgins tweeted on Monday, getting the game was, "A defining moment for our community!!!!!"