Posted by Chip Patterson
Since 1994, the SEC Championshp Game has been held in Atlanta and played in the Georgia Dome. It has become both an on-field and off-field spectacle for SEC fans, with all supporters of all schools gathering in the Peach City for one of the biggest games of the year. On Friday, SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced that the conference would keep the championship game in the Georgia Dome until 2017, extending the current deal by two years.
“The SEC Football Championship Game continues to be one of the premiere college sports events,” Commissioner Slive said in the official release. “The Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center has shown year-in and year-out that it is an outstanding host for our event. Their operations staff and leadership have been tremendous to work with and we look forward to continuing the relationship.”
In the 16 years since the game moved from Birmingham to Atlanta, the game has taken on a new life as an unofficial "celebration of Southern football." The SEC claims to be the best conference in all of college football, and this is the Super Bowl for that league. Their claims have been justified nationally in recent years. In fact, the last five SEC Championshp Game winners have gone on to win the BCS National Championship - a fact that any SEC fan will quickly recall when challenged.
I have not been to the SEC Championship Game myself, but I did attend this season's Chick Fil-A Kickoff Game. The entire Atlanta area was transformed into a college football celebration, and the atmosphere inside the Georgia Dome was one of the more electric neutral-field games I've ever experienced. Well the SEC Championship is that opening weekend upgraded to the nth power. You have national title implications, Heisman hopefuls, and it is the final game between league opponents. The question isn't "Why are they keeping it in Atlanta?" But instead, "Why have it anywhere else?"