Eight cities have submitted a total of 10 bids for hosting rights to the 2016 and 2017 College Football Playoff championship games, Playoff organizers and Executive Director Bill Hancock announced Monday.
The Playoff opened bidding for the 2016 and 2017 games in early August after (unsurprisingly) selecting AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas as the host of the inaugural playoff title game in January 2015.
The four sites to submit bids for the 2016 game included University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Jacksonville and Tampa also submitted bids for 2017. Their four competitors are the new Levi's Stadium in California's Bay Area, the new Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis, the Alamodome in San Antonio, and Sun Life Stadium in South Florida.
“This shows the tremendous popularity of college football. Obviously, communities across our country want to be part of the new playoff," Hancock said in a statement. "College football is a national sport, and rotating the game will bring it to more fans where they live. This is a compelling feature of the playoff, and one which will make this sport even more popular. We're thrilled with the response from these fine communities and look forward to evaluating their proposals."
The statement said the Playoff's decisions on the 2016 and 2017 games are "are expected to be announced later this year."
Unlike the bidding process for the 2015 game -- which was universally expected to be awarded to Jerry Jones's space palace -- there does not appear to be a clear frontrunner for either championship game.
Among 2016 contenders, both the Superdome and U of Phoenix Stadium already play host to long-tenured Playoff rotation bowls in the Sugar and Fiesta, respectively. And in 2017, Sun Life Stadium -- host of the Orange Bowl -- would be the only location with such strong college football ties, but may not be considered as attractive a facility as some of the other competitors (notably the two new NFL stadiums). The Minneapolis group is already making public statements about their investment in their 2017 bid, while CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported in April that Tampa's bid for the 2015 game made more of an impact than generally recognized.
In short: for the first time, there will be some real drama when the sites for a College Football Playoff Game are announced.