It’s a move we all saw coming for quite a while but it finally, mercifully, appears the Pac-12 Championship game will be leaving the Big Jean in Santa Clara for (literally) warmer pastures, as Larry Scott announced on Wednesday at Pac-12 media day that the 2020 and 2021 games will be played at the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas.
The conference had previously agreed to a three-year deal with a a fourth year option with Levi’s Stadium but opted out of that final year back in January. That decision came just a couple of months after the Washington Huskies and Utah Utes played a pretty boring football game on a Friday night in front of an announced crowd of just over 35,000 people, a little more than half of Levi’s Stadium’s capacity though that seems like a, uh, generous assessment.
Interestingly, it was originally reported last night by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy that the new venue in Los Angeles would be involved for one of the years.
Future Pac-12 title games will be at Los Angeles at Hollywood Park Stadium in 2020 & Las Vegas’ new stadium in 2021, sources told @Stadium— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 24, 2019
But this morning, McMurphy reported that those talks broke down at almost literally the last minute, considering that the conference needed to make an official announcement today.
Was told by sources negotiations broke down last minute yesterday b/w Los Angeles at Hollywood Park Stadium & Pac-12. Larry Scott announces today Pac-12 title game will now be in Las Vegas in 2020 & 2021— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 24, 2019
This is a move likely to be welcomed by all.
The issues with the home field of the San Francisco 49ers had been known for quite some time. Besides its incredibly lackluster location in the middle of nowhere (which is hard to do in the Bay Area), Friday night games in the middle of one of America’s biggest traffic nightmares created quite a problem. On top of that, if the conference is going to insist on playing this game at a neutral site, somewhere that’s actually a draw for fans on as little as a week’s notice would be good, rather than a bland, microwave cooker of a stadium in the middle of Silicon Valley.
We don’t know where the game will be beyond those two years, though it’s not impossible to imagine a rotation between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, especially since the Pac-12 is reported to be playing bowl games in both of the venues beginning the same year the title game moves.
Either way, who cares? It’s not at Levi’s! Praise be unto the Dr. Pepper halftime football toss into the big can for tuition money!