Indy likely to prepare bid for college football championship

After members of the Indiana Sports Corp.—including new president Ryan Vaughn—traveled to Dallas for the college football national championship game Monday, Indianapolis appears poised to bid for the massive event in the not-too-distant future.

Glendale, Arizona, hosts the game in 2016 and Tampa in 2017. But 2018 and beyond is up for grabs.

The College Football Playoff staff has said that request for proposals to host the 2018, 2019 or 2020 championship games will be sent to interested cities in February. Cities would need to submit their intent to bid in May.

ISC and city officials have not announced a definitive decision regarding the city’s bid plans—yet. But it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Indianapolis doesn’t bid for the event.

City officials last year told IBJ they likely would have pursued this year’s or next year’s college national football championship had they not been tied up in bidding for the 2018 Super Bowl—which they eventually lost to Minneapolis.

Vaughn and Senior Vice President Susan Baughman will talk about their recent Texas trip and future bidding plans at a press conference today at 2:15 p.m. at the ISC headquarters downtown.

Several members of the city’s hospitality industry said it’s only a matter of time before ISC puts a bid together. The speculation could be fueled by wishful thinking. And why not?

According to research done by the Dallas Morning News, Monday’s national championship game—the first as a result of a four-team playoff—resulted in the city’s second biggest economic boost ever driven by a sports event and among the biggest from any kind of event.

The Morning News estimated the economic impact of the college national championship at $308.6 million, just more than half that of the 2011 Super Bowl, and almost $23 million more than the region’s 2014 men’s Final Four.

It should be pointed out that economic impact is different from direct visitor spending. Typically an economic impact figure is two to four times that of direct visitor spending.

Indianapolis officials commissioned a third-party study which found that direct visitor spending for the 2011 Super Bowl here was $151.7 million. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say a national college football championship would pump $75 million to $85 million into central Indiana. And it may be more.

Visit Indy estimates that this year’s men’s Final Four here will have a $70.8 million economic impact over the five-day stretch visitors will be in the city.

Dallas’ economic impact is likely to be higher from the college football national championship than it would be if the game was played in Indianapolis because AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, has the potential to hold 15,000 to 25,000 more for a football game (depending on configuration) than Lucas Oil Stadium.

Of course, the game does not come without expense. How much it would cost to host a college national football championship isn't completely clear. North Texas is still computing the final cost.

Indianapolis raised $28 million in corporate cash to host the 2012 Super Bowl, and the city's Capital Improvement Board chipped in another $810,000.

The city would almost certainly need to raise another eight-figure pile of cash to host the college national championship.

To host this year's national championship pitting Ohio State against Oregon, Dallas-Fort Worth shelled out $10.7 million through their joint Texas Major Events Trust Fund, which is set up to collect visitor type taxes and use them to host major sporting events. Dallas-Fort Worth officials said those funds were used for things like rental of the teams’ practice sites, reimbursing the cities’ public safety costs, ground transportation for the colleges and their conferences, signs and banners, and the fee of a few million dollars required to host the game. It is unclear if there were other expenses beyond what came out of the fund.

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