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Posted on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Ford Field, others interested in hosting potential Big Ten championship game

By Dave Birkett


Ford Field in downtown Detroit could be the host of a potential Big Ten championship game, should one exist in the future.

Ann Arbor News file photo

In the past 4 1/2 years, Ford Field has hosted a Frozen Four, Final Four and Super Bowl. Could a Big Ten championship football game be next?

Detroit Metro Sports Commission executive director Dave Beachnau said his group would jump at the chance to bring that event to Michigan should the Big Ten expand to 12 teams and add a title game.

“I don’t think there’s any question that certainly we’d be interested in throwing our hat in the ring for an event like that,” Beachnau said. “It’s been successful in other conferences, so certainly I think it would be great for the region and for Ford Field or whatever venue it ends up being at.

“I don’t think (the Big Ten is) really saying anything, and we haven’t inquired officially about what would transpire. Obviously, they need to get through this expansion first.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said last month the league’s expansion push wasn’t motivated by the chance to add a conference championship game.

Still, coaches and administrators said that’s the next logical step should the league grow to at least 12 teams, the minimum required by the NCAA in order to host a title game.

Nebraska is expected to become the Big Ten’s 12th member today, and the league could add two or four more teams. The expanded conference likely won't begin play until 2011 or 2012.

Along with Detroit, representatives of stadiums or sports commissions in Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Chicago all said they’d be interested in hosting a Big Ten title game.

“We would always be interested in a game of that magnitude,” said Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in Minnesota. “It’d be a terrific event.”

Lester said Minneapolis bid to host the first Big Ten men’s basketball tournament more than a decade ago, when the league awarded the event to Chicago’s United Center. After four years, the tournament began alternating between Indianapolis and Chicago, and in 2008 the Big Ten moved it to Indiana’s Conseco Fieldhouse permanently.

It’s unclear whether the Big Ten would rotate venues for a championship football game like the Big 12 does, or play the game annually in one spot like the SEC.

Both of those games have flourished, while the ACC - the only other BCS conference to host a title game - has been less successful playing its event in Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla. The ACC game moves to Charlotte, N.C., this year.

“Selfishly, you’d like to keep it one market, especially if it’s yours,” Beachnau said. “But I think the Big Ten is pretty expansive in some of the markets that they’re in and I think it could successfully rotate between two or three or four (cities). And sure, we’d love to have an event like that every three or four years in town. It just all depends on their thought process. Typically, a new event you like to build it up before you start to move it around.”

Ford Field and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which hosts Super Bowl XLVI, are the two newest, most state-of-the-art facilities in the Big Ten’s current footprint, though Minneapolis continues to push for a new retractable-roof stadium.

Soldier Field in Chicago and Cleveland Browns Stadium also have hosted college football games in recent years, and Soldier Field spokesperson Lucca Serra said playing a Big Ten championship game at an outdoor venue might be a hit with fans.

“The minute that you say, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a big concern,’ the NFL goes and nails down the new New York stadium for the Super Bowl,” Serra said. “I don’t think it’s as big of an issue as it once was.”

Regardless of where it's played, a Big Ten championship game will have a significant financial impact on the city that hosts it. In Atlanta, an estimated $30 million is generated annually from the SEC title game.

“I think people would be very interested in (bidding on a Big Ten championship game) and depending on how they set up the deal points, I think it’d be hugely popular,” said Susan Baughman, senior vice president of events for the Indiana Sports Corporation. “I’m sure if we get in the race we won’t be alone.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 5:14 p.m.

Why would the Big 10 want to play a championship game in such a small venue? I thoght that the intent was to bring in more money. Stadiums that seat less than 90,000 need not apply.


Sat, Jun 12, 2010 : 6:19 a.m.

a2miguy, I apologize for the attitude. I thought this article was a joke. I know my family and friends would want to spend their christmas vacation in the fine metropolis of detroit.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

Wherever it might be played, so long as RichRod is at the helm, the Wolvnerines will be nowhere the field of play. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 4:43 p.m.

aabikes....the game would be played first week in december....Not much colder than some of the games we've had in October or November..


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

@rightmind250 Go right ahead. No one's stopping you, and please take the 'tude with you.


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

If Texas joins the Big 10, they'll want the Big 10 title game in Texas every year. Their arrogance is part of the reason other Big 12 members are so willing to run like hell.


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

The Big 10 championship should be played outdoors...all of the B10 teams are used to that. That way, if Texas does join the league, they will be forced to play the championship in one of our cold northern stadiums and get their butts handed to them. Unless, of course, the B10 championship then heads down to Texas just like where the Big 12 game is currently played.


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

No way...they should play this outdoors as all Big 10 teams have outdoor stadiums now. Play it at Lambeau or Soldier Fields. Please not in Indy at a dome or Ford Field in a dome. That's not Big 10 football being represented


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

No. No, no, no. It should remain within the conference on a rotating basis. Or at the home stadium of one of the two finalists. Why not keep the revenue produced in the conference? Dumb idea.


Fri, Jun 11, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

Ford Field? Why don't we just go to a South African slum?