Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thoughts on Lucas Oil Permanent Big 10 Championship Home….

I heard yesterday about the permanent home of the Big 10 Championship being at Lucas Oil Stadium and I immediately felt a bit of bile rise in my throat. While it wasn’t anger, it was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

I mean, I was happy that the location was relatively close to home (Indy is about a 5-6 hour drive for this fan) and it’s similar for 6 or 8 of the Big 10 school’s involved. Obviously, PSU, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin may have complaints, but everyone else can either fly or drive.

Nor was my concern with the fact that it was in what many people consider a “destination” city in the mid-west with all the infrastucture, cultural, hotel and bar facilities that fans need. Indy is also the home of one of the greatest races in all auto racing, even thought the two groups that used to represent open wheel racing still can’t seem to make an agreement work.

No, my concern was two-fold: 1. It’s an indoor stadium. Now, I get that it will be cold in December when they play this game and that it will be in prime time at night. But this fan would have welcomed that extra energy associated with a collegiate night game in the brutal cold. It’s what defines us as Midwesterners. And it would have also kept ticket prices in line for the average fan that would like to go see his alma mater play in this game. Which brings me to point number 2. Lucas Oil only seats 63,000 fans. That’s a big problem. I know they play the SEC in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome and the Big 12 Championship was played all over the place (which didn’t help attendance) but were hosted at neutral site pro-stadiums. And the ACC has finally adopted a permanent home in North Carolina after they were only able to sell 30,000 tickets to the two games in Tampa. I mean, did that even make sense? The ACC championship in Tampa??? The northern teams wouldn’t even have the option of road tripping there if they wanted to without missing work time…It was simply a bad idea.

My biggest problem is that the Big 10 traditionally has stadiums that approach or exceed 100,000 fans. And if you get the perennial powers back in place (which seems highly unlikely this year) but if you do get two big teams in the Championship, you’re going to be denying a lot of fans the opportunity to experience the game live and in person. Even a PSU-Wisconsin match-up will more than likely have tickets in demand. And that doesn’t sit right with this fan…

So, is this permanent location a good idea? Well, it’s great for Indianapolis. But I hate the thought that the only reason they selected the site was because of geography. I mean, what Big 10 fan wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to see their team play for all the marbles in the Big House? Or the Shoe? Yes, those are home fields for Michigan and OSU, but still, assuming parody is here, the actual odds of one or both those teams showing up in those stadiums seems to be less all the time. And who wouldn’t relish the chance to do a little dance on a rivals field when they weren’t even there? And wouldn’t that be better for the Big 10 overall? Yeah, I know…Northwestern will never host and neither will Purdue or Indiana or Iowa, for that matter. But were they in the running to ever host the thing anyway, based on their geography and infrastructure?

I know that Lucas Oil will be making money as will Indianapolis. I would just like to see some of that wealth get spread around to other communities in the Big 10 that have the facilities, infrastructure and fan base that can support a game. Yes, the ACC and Big 12 proved that moving the game around does not in fact help attendance, but that wasn’t the Big 10 in Big 10 country.

]One humble fan’s opinion….

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