Many of us felt that Atlanta's success in hosting college football games over the years and a new football stadium for the Falcons that opens in 2017 made them a lock for 2018. Got it. Santa Clara made sense in order to take the event back west and to have fans experience an open air-stadium for the 2019 event, similar to what NFL fans will see in February of 2106. Check.
Then came the kick in the gut... New Orleans for 2020. But interestingly, we quickly regrouped after reconfirming that we did everything possible to secure the 2020 CFP and began to plot our strategy to bid again when requests for proposals are issued next time.
Bill Hancock noted that all nine cities could have hosted the CFP. That suggests that the decision came down to very slight differences in the bids that were submitted. We heard Bill’s comments about how hosting back-to-back mega events in Minneapolis might make the CFP seem less important after the Super Bowl and Final Four, or that there might be community fatigue. Bill was quoted in the press conference as saying “I’m not sure we wanted to be third in that row.” That certainly wasn't our perception but the CFP had to make a decision that suits its needs.
New Orleans is indeed an iconic destination for college football, to paraphrase Bill Hancock. We are, of course, no stranger to competing against New Orleans as Minneapolis has been awarded a Super Bowl and Final Four more recently than New Orleans. I called to congratulate my New Orleans counterpart, Stephen Perry, on NOLA’s victory. And, being the Southern gentleman that he is, he responded by saying, "After y'all killed us the last two times (New Orleans didn’t get a future Super Bowl or Final Four in the last bid cycles), we appreciate you throwing us a crumb." Certainly he wasn’t referring to CFP as a crumb, but instead to say that New Orleans has not been in the position before of having to share the spotlight in hosting mega events. You may recall that when Minneapolis won the Super Bowl LII bid, New Orleans had previously always been awarded the event every time it bid.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, and I had the duty of addressing the media following the announcement. We were both still trying to fully absorb what had just happened and she eloquently summarized the sentiment of our group in saying that we were victims of our own success in confirming a Super Bowl and a Final Four in successive years leading up to potentially hosting the CFP in 2020. As hard as we tried to secure the CFP, we should feel very good about how our community has stepped up to regain our spot as a premier major events destination by securing other mega events.