Pac-12 Conference Bringing Football Championship Game to Las Vegas Stadium for 2020, 2021 Seasons
Posted on: July 24, 2019, 04:48h.
Last updated on: July 26, 2019, 09:30h.
The Pac-12 Conference is moving its 2020 and 2021 football title showdowns to Las Vegas Stadium, giving the venue that’s still under construction another football game for each of its first two seasons.
The stadium, which will be home to the NFL’s Raiders, is racking up college football games, too. UNLV will play its six home games there starting in 2020, and the revamped Las Vegas Bowl, one of the Pac-12’s bowl tie-ins, will be played at the stadium next year as well. The new Las Vegas Bowl will pit a Pac-12 team against an opponent from either the Big Ten or Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Our Pac-12 universities and entire Conference are thrilled to have our 2020 and 2021 football championship event take place in one of the most anticipated new venues in sports,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement.
The Pac-12 was a late adopter of a football championship game, launching its first conference title competition in 2011. In its first three years, it was played at the home stadium of the team with the better record. In 2014, the conference moved the game to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., home of the San Francisco 49ers.
The conference will keep the game there this year before moving to Sin City in 2020. Scott did not comment in the statement about the Pac-12’s plans for the title match-up beyond 2021.
Las Vegas Ties
Of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 has the schools that are closest to Las Vegas. UCLA and the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles are roughly four-hour drives, while Arizona State in Tempe is less than five hours away. The Universities of Arizona and of Utah are roughly six-hour drives from the Strip.
That proximity could prove important in luring fans to the game, meaning more booked hotel rooms, more diners at restaurants, and more gamblers at casinos.
Beyond the Las Vegas Bowl, the Pac-12 and the city have a long history together. The conference’s 2019 women’s basketball tournament will be played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and the 2020 edition will be hosted by MGM’s Mandalay Bay Events Center. T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL’s Golden Knights, has been the home of the Pac-12 men’s conference tournament since the 2016-17 season, a deal that expires in 2020.
“Since the Conference’s move of its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to Las Vegas, the events have drawn sensational crowds and set multiple attendance records,” according to the statement.
The Pac-12 is likely hoping to bring its football championship game to Las Vegas boosts sagging attendance. Last year, the title match-up featuring the Universities of Utah and Washington, drew just over 35,000 fans to Levi’s Stadium, a venue with a capacity of 68,500. That after just 48,000 fans attended the 2017 version of the game, a 31-28 USC win over Stanford.
By comparison, the 2018 SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta drew more than 77,000 fans. Las Vegas Stadium is expected to have maximum seating of 65,000 for football games.
AEG, the entertainment group operating Las Vegas Stadium, is hoping to have 46 events annually at the venue. In 2020, there will be at least 18 football games there: two exhibition and eight regular season Raiders games, six UNLV contests, the Pac-12 title showdown and the Las Vegas Bowl.
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