When the Big Ten joins the championship game party, which appears to be on track for 2011, it looks as though it will take place in Indianapolis, the home city of the men’s basketball tournament. The Big Ten released a statement today saying that the conference has declared Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, as the favorite to land the lucrative inaugural Big Ten championship game.
From the press release on the Big Ten’s official website;
The Big Ten Conference announced today that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis has been chosen as the proposed site for the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played in December of 2011. The conference office will begin a 30-day period to negotiate a one-year agreement with Indiana Sports Corp and Lucas Oil Stadium to host the game. Once the 2011 agreement is in place, the conference office will conduct a thorough process over the next year to determine the location of the Big Ten Football Championship Game in 2012 and beyond.
“We are excited to work with Indiana Sports Corp and Lucas Oil Stadium to finalize an agreement to hold the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game in the city of Indianapolis,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We felt at this time it was important to identify a site for the first championship game and then spend more time with other cities and venues with respect to both our basketball tournaments and the football championship games in the future. The city of Indianapolis has been an outstanding host for our basketball tournaments, and we look forward to holding our first Big Ten Football Championship Game in Lucas Oil Stadium.”
So what does this all mean? Clearly the Big Ten realizes the value of hosting a game in Indianapolis. The Big Ten basketball tournament has already established a home in the city so the Big Ten knows they can be comfortable with the location. Playing the game indoor is a safe choice, at least for the first season, as weather will not be a factor in the game. Some fans hope the conference chooses an outdoor facility for a future game though.
Speaking of which, the release says that the conference has not determined what will happen in the future for the game. Commissioner Jim Delany has said that all options will be evaluated. He said at Big Ten media day this week that he expected the conference to settle on a one year deal with one location with hopes of getting the championship game started in 2011 and then the conference could focus on a long term plan. That appears to be holding true, although the process moved along a little faster than expected. Delany mentioned on Monday that the conference would release details on the future of the conference in the next 30-45 days, including division alignment, a new logo and plans for a championship game.
Delany, your conference is 27-42 days ahead of schedule.
Lucas Oil Stadium Stats
- Home of the Indianapolis Colts
- Capacity: 63,000 (expandable to 70,000)
- Site of 2010 NCAA Men’s Final Four (will host again in 2015)
- Will host Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
- Site of the annual NFL Scouting Combine