Posted by Bryan Fischer
Big Ten teams hoping to play in the league's championship game don't have to worry about packing the cold weather gear.
The conference's Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously Sunday to hold the Big Ten football championship game inside at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from 2012-2015. Soldier Field in Chicago was also considered to host the game but commissioner Jim Delany said Indianapolis just made more sense as the league looks to grow an event they'll be hosting for the first time at Lucas Oil in 2011.
"In order to establish ourselves and build a foundation, it's a good idea to be indoors and see what we have," said Delany. "The idea was that we could get consistency of planning for both teams if you knew the environment was going to be pretty consistent. I would say that it was a fan aspect as well as a players' aspect."
Big Ten football is known for being played outside in the elements and many fans - despite the possibility of braving cold weather for the game - also wanted the league's championship game to be played outside. Part of the reason the game was kept indoors, Delany only half-joked about, was that the game would allow teams to get a jump start on planning for bowl games in warmer climates.
"We play in tough weather in November but we play in great weather in September, October and then, as you know, we always play in great weather for bowl games in Florida, Texas and California," Delany said. "Maybe we’re just getting ready to play bowl games."
Indianapolis put in a strong big to host the game, including having Gov. Mitch Daniels and other prominent Indiana figures give their two cents as to why the city was best equipped to host the game. Delany did say Chicago was one of the country's best sports towns but the layout of Indianapolis and the city's reputation for hosting amateur athletics was too much for Chicago to overcome.
"On the Indianapolis side, they have developed a very integrated delivery system that benefited them in their presentation," Delany said. "I don’t think anybody who has ever worked with the Indianapolis community could come away anything other than exceptionally impressed."
Soldier Field's playing surface, a key concern for some after the field's performance in NFL games during cold weather, was not cited as a factor in the decision. The deal is for four years, with the championship game being played in primetime on Fox.
Delany added that the selection of Lucas Oil Stadium and Indianapolis for further Big Ten events (such as the men's and women's basketball tournament) just made sense for the Big Ten brand as much as it did for the game itself. While fans may not agree with the game being played indoors, they will be much warmer when the game rolls around in December.