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Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Tampa’s grand college try

Published:

Before major college football commissioners formally announced Wednesday that Cowboys Stadium in Texas would host the first College Football Playoff championship in 2015, word leaked that Tampa had made a “surprisingly strong” bid to host the game.

We wonder who was surprised. Certainly not us, and definitely not the movers and shakers of college and professional sports who know all about the four Super Bowls we’ve hosted, and the Outback Bowl, held here each year. Or those who attended the NCAA men’s ice hockey Frozen Four, the NCAA women’s college basketball Final Four, and other college title games and tournaments played here previously.

New visitors who attended the Republican National Convention here last summer learned we are darned good at hosting a big event, too.

The palatial stadium that Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, built in Arlington, Texas, was said to be such a shoo-in for the new college football championship that other cities decided not to bid at all. Tampa promoters weren’t deterred. They’re game, and we’re proud of that.

Although Raymond James Stadium isn’t new and doesn’t hold 100,000 people like Cowboys Stadium, there is not a better stadium or city in the United States to host a big football game in the winter than Tampa and RayJay, which has natural grass. And we recall that snow and ice was a bit of a problem during Super Bowl Week in February 2011, when the big game was played at Cowboys Stadium.

Officials from Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission plan to bid on the 2016 college football championship game, and they should — as they should bid on every major sporting event they deem feasible to host — regardless of whatever city or facility is said to have the inside track.

Tampa has a tremendous track record of hosting major events. These events are great for fans, the local economy and Tampa’s reputation as a major sports host.

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