The first College Football Playoff National Championship was a success, if the packed crowd at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium (and the subsequent $85 parking near the event) is any indication. Next year’s game, to be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and the 2017 game in Tampa, should be equally prosperous—both are at stadiums and in cities that know exactly how to throw a big event, having been regulars on the Super Bowl rotation for years.
After that, though, the field for potential host cities for the NCAA’s title game broadens a bit. The 2018 list of potential sites includes Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, and Houston—the latter three of which will have had Super Bowl hosting experience, and all of which will have stadiums primed for a major game. And in 2019 and 2020, the list of cities that have bids in also includes San Antonio.
- 2018 – Atlanta, Bay Area (Santa Clara), Houston, South Florida
- 2019 – Bay Area (Santa Clara), Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio
- 2020 – Bay Area (Santa Clara), Charlotte, Houston, Minnesota, New Orleans, San Antonio
The stadium in Santa Clara — outside of San Francisco, where the 49ers play — is brand new. Atlanta will also have a new stadium in time for the 2017 NFL season. Charlotte’s Bank Of America Stadium will have completed a 5-year, $87.5 million dollar renovation plan by 2019, and Minnesota will have a new stadium by the time that 2020 bid comes up.
And meanwhile, there’s San Antonio.
San Antonio is sort of the shaggy dog of American sports. It’s good enough to consider when a team is trying to leverage its current city for a new stadium, but even before a deal gets reached elsewhere, it finds itself on the outs. Its one professional franchise is the best dynasty in all of American sports, but whenever the Spurs find themselves in the finals, the headlines are about how crappy the city they play in is. San Antonio managed to secure a NCAA Final Four basketball championship for 2018, but only after the city was ignored in over a decade of bids and $41 million worth of announced renovations to the Alamodome.
In other words, it’s safe to consider San Antonio a long shot for the College Football Playoff National Championship, just because it’s generally a long shot for any sports-related thing that isn’t “will the Spurs make the playoffs.” But even more specifically, San Antonio seems like an unlikely host simply because it’s hard to look at brand new stadiums in Minnesota, Santa Clara, and Atlanta — or stadiums in Miami, which received $350 million in renovations, or New Orleans, which received $336 million worth of updates — and think that the Alamodome, even after a $41 million facelift, is really capable of competing. Charlotte, the stadium is most comparable to the Alamodome, approved more than double what San Antonio did for facility improvements, and its airport is a hub city for American Airlines making travel easy. And it’s still considered a long shot itself.
Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for San Antonio to want the game. As the San Antonio Business Journal notes, the game in Arlington in January was worth over $300 million to the local economy, and that number could grow as the game develops. And anything that helps develop San Antonio’s reputation as a world-class sports city increases the odds that the next time a major franchise starts shopping around, the nation’s seventh largest city (with a bullet—watch out, Philadelphia!) gets serious consideration, instead of just another turn as always the sports bridesmaid, never the sports bride. Figuring out what the NCAA would want with San Antonio, though, is a tougher question to answer.