ATLANTA — The next time LSU is in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it could be for a game that’s part of college football’s new playoff system in a new, state-of-the-art stadium.
On the day of this year’s bowl between LSU and Clemson, much is unknown about the game’s future. But from where Chick-fil-A Bowl president/CEO Gary Stokan sits, the horizon looks tantalizingly bright.
“We’ve always aspired to be part of the BCS,” he said. “Now we aspire to join the playoff system after the 2014 season.”
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has reason to believe those aspirations will be fulfilled.
The state of Georgia and Atlanta Falcons are close to finalizing a deal to build a new retractable roof stadium near the current site of the Georgia Dome. Stokan said the stadium likely will seat about 75,000. The Georgia Dome holds 71,959.
A hotel/motel tax that has been renewed through 2050 requires the new stadium to be built on the campus of the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta’s massive convention facility. The two sites being considered are just north of the GWCC and just south of the Georgia Dome, which Stokan said is more likely.
After the new stadium is completed — by 2017 at the earliest — the 20-year-old Georgia Dome would be demolished and replaced by parking for the new stadium.
The Falcons reportedly wanted an open-air stadium at first, but a retractable-roof facility will allow Atlanta to continue to host Final Fours, large concerts and events like the Southeastern Conference and ACC basketball tournaments.
It also likely enhances the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s appeal to be part of the playoff, which begins in January 2015.
Three bowls have been contracted to serve as hosts for playoff semifinals because of their ties to host major conference champions: the Sugar (SEC and Big 12 in what previously was known as the Champions Bowl), Rose (Big Ten and Pac-12) and Orange (ACC).
Three other bowls, referred to as host bowls, will be selected in April by the current BCS conferences and independent Notre Dame, Stokan said.
The contenders for the remaining three slots include the Chick-fil-A, Fiesta, Cotton, Outback, Capital One and Gator bowls. Houston’s Reliant Stadium also is in play.
Reportedly, the Chick-fil-A, Cotton and Fiesta are considered the bowls to beat.
Each of the six bowls would have a chance to host semifinal games in four of the 12 years of the current playoff contract. In the other eight years, the bowls would get teams bascially ranked No. 5 through No. 12, with the likelihood of hosting the championship game at least one of those years.
National title games would not rotate but would be bid out like the Super Bowl.
“Our priority is to make the next step up to be one of these host bowls and to host a national championship game over the 12-year term,” Stokan said.
The BCS schools sold naming rights for the national championship game to ESPN as part of its contract to televise the playoff, but Stokan said Chick-fil-A has expressed interest in continuing as title sponsor of games in Atlanta, if possible.
If the Chick-fil-A is picked, Atlanta may host another lesser bowl and will continue to host the Chick-fil-A kickoff games, Stokan said.