August 05, 2010
The Big Ten is wasting no time getting its expansion ducks in a row. On Tuesday, the grandaddy of college conferences confirmed the existence of a championship game for its newly realigned, 12-team format in 2011; today, it confirms the locale:
PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AP)—The Big Ten has selected Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as the proposed site for the conference’s first football championship game to be played December 2011.
The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will begin negotiations on a one-year agreement with Indiana Sports Corp. and Lucas Oil Stadium to host the game. The site for future Big Ten title games will be determined over the next year.
Suffice to say, with old-school venues like Chicago's Soldier Field and Green Bay's Lambeau Field competing alongside the pioneering paragon of Starbucksification in modern America stadia, Ford Field in Detroit, Indy is a minor upset. True, Lucas Oil Stadium has already been home to a Final Four and will host an upcoming Super Bowl. A retractable roof will not necessarily crush anyone's soul in and of itself; nor will a faux-nostalgic facade that manages to simultaneously elicit a brewery, a fifties-era Midwestern high school and a suburban convention center.
But would it have hurt for the conference's first foray into the December championship circuit to pay some numb-fingered tribute to its frigid, mud-and-blood roots? Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler – men of tundra, buckling concrete and, later, soggy, flesh-ripping Astroturf – would have never been comfortable leading a team into an arena with the atmosphere of an oversized conference room. Before them, Bernie Bierman and Bennie Oosterbaan couldn't have conceived of it. If they can play the Super Bowl in the cold, they must play the Big Ten Championship in the cold.
Anyway, the event will get around to Chicago, Green Bay and Cleveland soon enough. For now, its location is still far less noteworthy than the fact that it exists at all: Say goodbye to 51-day layoffs before January bowl games and hello to another made-for-TV ratings bonanza with frequent national championship ramifications. Another multimillion-dollar revenue stream ought to warm everybody up.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.