A few years ago I was invited to watch college football’s national championship game in 3D in a movie theater at Town Square. And accepted the invitation.
So playing it in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday night wasn’t the worst idea since the flying wedge.
At the same time, those responsible for putting Bevo, the 1,700-pound Texas mascot steer, together with Uga, the Georgia Bulldog, for a photo op before the Sugar Bowl probably can relate.
College football isn’t exactly king in and around San Francisco, which probably explains why they had to cover the upper deck at Levi’s Stadium with a tarp when Washington played Utah for the Pac-12 championship on Nov. 30.
The announced crowd was 35,134. But announced crowds and about $8 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks at the airport. Eyewitnesses placed the turnout closer to 20,000.
Despite the colossal Alabama vs. Clemson matchup, tickets on the secondary market were going for $150 last week. The average ticket price for last year’s Alabama-Georgia title match in Atlanta reached $3,046 according to published reports.
You know where this is headed.
Or at least should be headed.
These prices aren't just an anomaly for this year. I bought 2 lower bowl tickets for $90 each for the first match up of Alabama Clemson in Phoenix. Not enough people traveled which led to cheap tickets
— Tony D'Ambrosio (@ajdambrosio) January 3, 2019
Why not Las Vegas?
At Stubhub on Monday morning, one could be admitted to Tuesday’s Golden Knights vs. Rangers game at T-Mobile Arena for $78, but only four seats remained at that low price. It will cost another $20 to park, plus whatever they get for gauze in the nosebleed sections.
I don’t know what it says when tickets for college football’s national championship game and a midweek NHL skate in Las Vegas cost roughly the same. But this is what Paul Newberry of the Associated Press wrote on the day of the big football showdown:
“The downtown streets were soaked and largely empty. Extra police officers loitered at the intersections, but they mostly just talked among themselves. On the weekend before one of the country’s biggest sporting events, the host city appeared to have hit the snooze button …”
I also know what you’re thinking: Had the Raiders’ new stadium been ready to go and the Alabama-Clemson game been played in it, you wouldn’t have been able to get in for $150, plus whatever it costs to rent a camel for the sojourn from the auxiliary parking lots.
Last May’s Supreme Court ruling nullifying a law prohibiting sports gambling finally influenced the NCAA to change its Cro-Magon Era views on holding championship events in Las Vegas, the success of postseason conference basketball tournaments here notwithstanding.
The new stadium already has been mentioned as a soft landing spot for the Pac-12 football championship game when the current contract at Levi’s Stadium expires in 2019. (There is an option for 2020.) But fans who would gladly travel to Las Vegas to witness Nick Saban scowl and ponder what Dabo Swinney’s parents were thinking are going to have wait a minimum of six years, even in a best-case scenario.
The next five sites for the championship game already are set: New Orleans in 2020, Miami in 2021, Indianapolis in 2022, Los Angeles in 2023, Houston in 2024. Each is a much better site than Santa Clara-San Jose-San Francisco.
College football playoff chief Bill Hancock said the idea was to take the championship game to all parts of the country, probably because saying taking it to the highest bidder wouldn’t sound that good.
“This is a brand new, world-class stadium,” Hancock said. “We like to be able to have our athletes play in a place like that. And those players, they’ll all remember that they got to play at Levi’s Stadium.”
Before the start of the 2018 season, a list of the top 25 college football stadiums was published by Popular Mechanics (really). Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium was No. 1. Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium was No. 10. Clemson’s Memorial Stadium was No. 25.
Levi’s Stadium did not make the list for some reason.
You know how music people like to say that Billy Preston was the fifth Beatle? Well, the quote about Levi’s Stadium makes Bill Hancock the fifth or sixth Spin Doctor, or however many there were.
In related notes, work at Las Vegas Stadium continues at a feverish pace.
ESPN launched its 3D sports network in 2011 and shut it down in 2013.
And Uga X, the Georgia mascot, still doesn’t sleep well at night.