Martin Stadium may never get the chance to host a Pac-12 title game... And not for the reason you're thinking.
According to Pete Thamel, Stewart Mandel and Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated the Pac-12 conference is currently in discussions to move the game to brand new, state-of-the-art, Levi's Stadium in San Francisco. This would mean that the conference would move away from the current format of playing on the campus of one of the teams.
The article says that, if the change is approved at the annual meeting in June, it would take effect this year for the 2014 championship game in December. Part of the reason for the change is that ticket sales for the first few games have been disappointing, namely the roughly 30,000 attendance figure for the game Stanford hosted two years ago. Thamel, Mandel and Schnell cite other benefits as well.
Conference leaders see multiple positives in moving the game to the Bay Area, including the fact that Pac-12 schools all have strong alumni bases nearby. They also see the modern new stadium, replete with technological bells and whistles such as luxury suites and wireless Internet, as an added bonus.
The league found difficulties for schools hosting the game on short notice. Ticket sales were rushed, and athletic directors voiced concerns about potential issues with luxury boxes and season tickets holders needing to be moved to make room for corporate entities. With a game branded in one city -- just like the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta -- the league can sell tickets to the event year-round, not exclusively as a game tied to two specific schools.
Setting aside the fact that Seahawk fans who also happen to be fans of WSU, UW, Oregon or OSU will have to suffer through visiting the heart of 49er country to see their teams in the title game, there is a lot to like here. Sure, holding the game on campus gives it a better feel and makes it all that more special for the better team, but the logistics just work better this way and it allows the conference to sell the game to their corporate partners long before they can now.
We'll find out if the road to the Rose Bowl will go through Northern California or not in June. What do you think?
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