With a Big Ten Championship game looming, cities start sending in the bids to host the colossal game. Let’s look at the best candidates for the gig.
Detroit: Detroit could use the boost, and the state is home to two big programs. Ford Field can provide a controlled atmosphere and can support the crowd. The turf would be different and not really Big Tenish, but it’s about selling tickets and more fans like sitting indoors in December than outdoors. The MAC Championship is already in Detroit, and they could do both, but most likely the MAC would be looking elsewhere.
Chicago: Soldier field would be a nice venue, its outdoors and it’s pretty centrally located in Big Ten country. Northwestern is pretty close by as well. I think it’s important to have the state with the championship to have a Big Ten school. Chicago would be a cool location to head to and could support the media coverage and Ro-Tel cook offs.
Indianapolis: Another closed stadium, which could open its roof if it was decent out. Indiana is home to Purdue and Indiana University (and someday Notre Dame?) and the city is large enough to hold the city, although it would be probably the most boring big city they could pick. Plus Indy already has the basketball conference tournament, so no city will probably get a monopoly.
Green Bay/Milwaukee: The weather would be brutal, but the tradition would be great at Lambeau. The city can’t hold the game, so the media and fans would be scattered. The Badgers call the state home and the Golden Gophers are close by. Milwaukee (Miller Park) is retractable but they would most likely close it. This isn’t really an option for me, since it’s a baseball park and not really designed for football.
Cleveland: Another consolation prize for losing the fallen King, Cleveland would have crappy weather but awesome atmosphere. Ohio State fans could travel easily and its not a bad location. The Browns won’t be playing a meaningful game after October and it would be fun for the game to be played in the mud and muck. The dark horse if they are looking for an outdoor venue.
Campus sites: If rotated, not a bad option. Some schools could get left out, like Indiana and Northwestern because of the smaller venues. And if there is home field advantage there will be some serious complaining. They are all open stadiums and can obviously support the game.
If I were in charge, I would rotate the NFL stadiums. You could sell your product all over the Midwest and really create some buzz by moving it around. If I had to pick one NFL city it would be Detroit. They would be the best option with Indy losing out to having the basketball tournament. I hope the rotating campus option will be explored, because if the Big Ten is about tradition like they say they are, this is the best option.