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Atlanta announces bid for 2018 championship game

AP - Sports

ATLANTA (AP) -- The city of Atlanta said Thursday it will bid for college football's 2018 national championship game, which would be held in its new downtown retractable roof stadium.

Construction on the stadium is scheduled to begin shortly after deals were reached with two historic churches that must be moved. It will open in the spring of 2017.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl is one of six bowls that will rotate as sites of the national semifinal games under the new playoff system, which begins with the 2014 season. Atlanta will host its first semifinal during the 2016 season.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has been selected to host the first national title game on Jan. 12, 2015. The next two championship sites have yet to be picked, and Atlanta is not eligible to bid for the 2016-17 game because it will be a semifinal site that season.

Atlanta officials decided not to bid for the 2015-16 championship game because there weren't enough available hotel rooms over the required dates. The game is set for Jan. 11, 2016, which would overlap with the International Gift, Home Furnishings and Area Rug Market convention that runs from Jan. 8-15.

Also, the 2018 bid will allow the city to push its new stadium as a major selling point. The $1 billion stadium will be constructed next to the 21-year-old Georgia Dome, which will be demolished once the new facility is completed.

The Atlanta Falcons will be the new stadium's main tenant, but city officials have said it will enhance the chances of landing major events such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

''Atlanta is a world-class city with a strong track record of success in hosting major events,'' Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. ''We hope our new stadium will serve as a centerpiece for the 2018 national championship game, as well as in many of the ensuing years.''

The bid is being led by a group known as Team Atlanta, comprised of local and state officials including the Falcons, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chick-fil-A Bowl and Georgia World Congress Center.

''Team Atlanta is fully focused on assembling the best possible bid with the sole purpose of earning the rights to bring the 2018 National Championship Game to Atlanta,'' said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. ''We have the right team in place and will work together to pool our resources into the winning bid.''

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