|The Superdome will continue to be the destination of choice for the SEC. (US Presswire)|
What the SEC wants these days, the SEC usually gets. And when it comes to the location of the new "Champions Bowl" matching the SEC's champion (or next-best team) and the Big 12's, the Sugar Bowl -- now the Eastern answer to the Rose Bowl -- has proven to be the beneficiary of that.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday that the New Orleans-based Sugar has been chosen as host for the "Champions Bowl," which will make its debut along with the new four-team playoff system following the 2014 regular season. ESPN will offer the leagues a payout of $80 million, the same total offered the Pac-12 and Big Ten for the Rose.
The SEC officially announced the news at 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.
“New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl are synonymous with postseason college football. For many years, fans have enjoyed the color and pageantry that New Orleans offers,” said Mike Slive, the SEC commissioner. "The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has hosted many Super Bowls, Sugar Bowls and National Championship Games and having teams from the Big 12 and the SEC in a postseason college football game together only adds to this list."
The Sugar will keep its name, with the "Champions" moniker being retired as a placeholder. (In essence, the Big 12 has simply accepted a tie-in with the Sugar to send its best available team there.) The agreement with the Sugar is for 12 years.
The Sugar's bid was accepted over competing ones from Arlington, Texas (and the Cotton Bowl), Houston (and Reliant Stadium), and Atlanta (and the Chick-fil-A Bowl). The Cotton's bid -- one which would have seen the game played in palatial Cowboys Stadium -- had been described as being in a "dead heat" with the Sugar's as recently as Oct. 5.
“From the moment this game was announced, there has been tremendous excitement associated with the collaboration between these two conferences. That excitement is reflected in the bids received to host this game. There were great cities, attractive destinations, and impressive venues to consider,” said Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "Now Big 12 fans can look forward to a New Year's tradition and coming to New Orleans to support their team.
"We are thrilled about our long-term association with our SEC colleagues and to be in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.“
The Sugar's decisive advantage was likely its long and historic ties to the SEC, which for traditional and "home-field advantage" reasons will be happy to see its champion (or next-best team) continue to play at the Superdome.
"First, we want to congratulate the Allstate Sugar Bowl. New Orleans will be a great host city for the Champions matchup," said Rick Baker, the Cotton Bowl president. "For the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, this was just one of several opportunities for our game and Cowboys Stadium to become part of the new college playoff system. We look forward to having a chance to become one of the three access bowls and to bring numerous National Championship games to North Texas."