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Thread: Heinz Field Should Host Big Ten Championship Game

      
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    Default Heinz Field Should Host Big Ten Championship Game

    Why Heinz Field Should Host The Big Ten Championship Game

    By Jeff Junstrom - Contributor
    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2010/...d-host-the-big


    Heinz Field is a perfect venue for the Big Ten's championship game, set to debut next December.


    July 20, 2010 - NCAA rules strictly state that no conference may have a championship game unless its member total is at least 12. Now that Nebraska has been welcomed into the fold, the Big Ten qualifies, and will likely have its first-ever conference championship game in December of 2011. The only remaining question is what stadium/city will host the game?

    The national consensus is that the game should be played in one of the following five stadiums:

    Cleveland Browns Stadium - 73,200 seating capacity
    Lambeau Field - just under 73,000
    Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianaoplis, IN) - 70,000
    Ford Field - 65,000
    Soldier Field - 61,500

    Three of these should be removed from consideration.

    Rule No. 1 - No Hometown Advantage
    The now 12 Big Ten schools are split across the midwest, from Lincoln to State College, from Minneapolis to Bloomington. The geographic center is roughly the Chicago area, or even northern Indiana (and since northern Indiana has nothing worthwhile for the Big Ten, let's call the center Chicago). However, the first rule when deciding who gets to host the new championship game should be that no city that has a Big Ten team should host. Since Chicago is home to Northwestern, even though Northwestern has won eight championships in 114 years of Big Ten play, Chicago should be out.

    Thus, all other Big Ten towns/cities are eliminated: as great as it would be for any of the three giant stadiums of the Big Ten (Beaver Stadium, Michigan Stadium and Ohio Stadium), there would be too much of an advantage if that town's team were to play in the championship. Other stadiums (Camp Randall, brand new TCF Bank Stadium, etc.) would undoubtedly do a great job hosting the game, but the potential for even the slightest advantage is enough to avoid the possibility at all.

    Cleveland Browns Stadium - 73,200 seating capacity
    Lambeau Field - just under 73,000
    Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN) - 70,000
    Ford Field - 65,000
    Soldier Field - 61,500

    Rule No. 2 - No Domes
    Big Ten football lives and dies by the weather it plays in, a point poignantly expressed by KevinHD of Black Shoe Diaries. Playing in warm weather is fun, to be sure; but this conference relishes games such as 2008's Penn State-Michigan State where, by the end of the game, it felt more like Alaska than State College. Big Ten fans are used to the cold; Big Ten fans respect the cold; Big Ten fans welcome the cold. Therefore, the game that decides the conferences crown should be played where there is at least the chance of weather becoming a factor, as opposed to climate controlled places like Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium. Detroit would also violate Rule No. 1 (for being too close to Ann Arbor) and Indianapolis should be ineligible, since it already hosts the Big Ten's year-end basketball tournament. Each site has its advantages, but a conference that prides itself in its ability to play in whatever conditions are presented (and play well nonetheless) should have its championship game's conditions left to fate, not a thermostat.

    Of all the rules, this one is likely to have the most detractors. Take, for example. Tim Staudt of the Lansing State Journal:

    If the Big Ten opts for an outdoor stadium to play its first league football championship game a year from December, those making that decision should be sentenced to sitting in the stands. They should have to share the miserable conditions with the thousands of other freezing spectators who could have been enjoying the experience at state-of-the-art indoor facilities available in Indianapolis or Detroit, both of which are bidding for the game.

    Staudt's view is pretty commonplace among those that would have the Big Ten championship game played in a dome. This view, however, places comfort and convenience over history and tradition. Since Minnesota's introduction of the new TCF Bank Stadium (which will open this fall), all members of the Big Ten (Nebraska included) play their football outside. Why would they then want to settle the conference title inside? "Miserable conditions" are the very essence of Big Ten football.

    Cleveland Browns Stadium - 73,200 seating capacity
    Lambeau Field - just under 73,000
    Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianaoplis, IN) - 70,000
    Ford Field - 65,000
    Soldier Field - 61,500

    Rule No. 3 - Location, Location, Location
    This Rule can be broken down into three sub-rules: 1) again, no hometown advantage, 2) the site must be in a state that actually has a Big Ten team, and 3) the site must be within the geographical "footprint" of the Big Ten, meaning no sites east of State College (sorry, Philadelphia), west of Lincoln, nor South of Bloomington. One other caveat, in line with Rule No. 4, is that the city itself must be large enough, as the Big Ten championship game is likely to attract a hoarde of fans, visitors, media, family, etc. With this in mind, the following two cities are added to the list: Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (which may or may not be south of Bloomington; according to Google Maps they appear to lay on almost the exact same line of latitude). Further, Green Bay is barely left on the list, being just south of Minneapolis. Sites that would have made this list but for Rule No. 3 include Kansas City and St. Louis, but since Missouri is not (as of yet) a member of the Big Ten, those sites do not have a proverbial dog in the fight.

    Cleveland Browns Stadium - 73,200 seating capacity
    Lambeau Field - just under 73,000
    Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianaoplis, IN) - 70,000
    Ford Field - 65,000
    Soldier Field - 61,500
    Heinz Field - 65,000
    Paul Brown Stadium - 65,000

    Rule No. 4 - Size Does Matter
    In the last 20 years, at least one of the "Big Three" (Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan) have won or shared the conference title 17 times. Each of these three schools have stadiums that hold in excess of 100,000 people, and they are always sold out on Saturdays in the fall. That being said, the championship game is going to attract a large audience, so the stadium chosen should be able to handle the load. This is where the first negative for Heinz Field comes into play, as its barely-65,000 seating capacity seems inadequate. However, as Steelers fans will remember, Ford Field did a pretty good job hosting another rather important football game, and its capacity is almost identical to Heinz Field.

    As Brian Cook notes, Soldier Field in Chicago would fail for this Rule as well:

    Soldier Field is the smallest stadium in the NFL and both Ford Field and Lucas Oil Stadium are in the bottom ten. All but a few NFL stadiums seem piddling compared to the 100k+ behemoths across the Big Ten.

    Results
    Since the "100k+ behemoths" have been ruled out of contention in Rule No. 1, and since Rules No. 3 and 4 require a large, NFL stadium, we are left with just four contenders:

    Cleveland Browns Stadium - 73,200 seating capacity
    Lambeau Field - just under 73,000
    Heinz Field - 65,000
    Paul Brown Stadium - 65,000

    The most logical solution (and the one that will likely come to fruition, only with a different cast of characters) is a rotating field of host sites, made up of these four cities. Pittsburgh is a large enough city to host a Big Ten championship game, and its stadium is one of the finest in the country, even if it's on the smaller side. Pittsburgh is home to the second highest concentration of Penn State alumni (behind Philadelphia), so there is a strong Big Ten presence. Finally, Pittsburgh sits about equidistant from both State College and Columbus, with Ann Arbor being a mere four-and-a-half hours away.

    The remaining knock on Pittsburgh is that it is Big East territory, home to the Panthers and a not-insignificant amount of Penn State hate (although the same might be able to be said about Cincinnati and Ohio State hate). Pittsburgh has hosted many NCAA events, though, and not all of them included the Panthers or even Big East teams. Further, the city is set to host the Frozen Four in 2013 even though no team from Pittsburgh has never made the event (while multiple teams from the Big Ten are contenders each year). Finally, the Big Ten teams, at least the ones most likely to be playing in a championship in any given year, travel extremely well. This game could be played in Boise, and if the game featured the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes, there would not be an empty seat in the house and the parking lots would be full.

    Pittsburgh should host the Big Ten championship game; the reality, however, is that Jim Delaney, the conference commissioner, and the other decision makers will probably select a system that violates at least one of the above rules. The likely outcome is a rotation of Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, and Indianapolis, giving the game an alternating indoor/outdoor feel.

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    Default Re: Heinz Field Should Host Big Ten Championship Game

    YEAH so Heinz Field "Grass" will even be ****TIER

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