Is Soldier Field Too Small To Host A Big Ten Championship Game?

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↵The addition of Nebraska paves the way for the Increasingly Inaccurately Named Big Ten to host a championship game. This has kicked off the usual round of scrabbling from cities looking to employ their taxpayer-funded stadiums a little more often. If they take the ACC route they'll put the championship game in Oklahoma City, but since that's not working out great, expect a fairly central location. ↵

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↵The main question: will it be a dome? Maybe, maybe not. Centrally-located Indianapolis already hosts the Big Ten basketball championships and has a conveniently domed NFL Stadium available for parties. It is also not Detroit, which has a swanky and relatively new dome of its own but is also in Detroit. But advocates of fog-breathing manball played in the freezer that is the upper Midwest in December—conveniently employed by organizations with outdoor stadiums—are playing up the leather helmets: ↵

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↵⇥David Gilbert, president of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, told The (Ohio) Morning Journal that he expects the game to be rotated among cities and that non-domed stadiums should not be ruled out. The game likely would be played on Dec. 3, 2011. ↵⇥

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↵⇥"This is not SEC football," he told the paper. "This is Big Ten football. The weather is part of the game." ↵⇥

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↵Cue snarky comments from SEC bloggers along the lines of "you aren't kidding." ↵

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↵Soldier Field is also putting in a bid that I, as someone who may attend these things from time to time and doesn't particularly enjoy having my face sand-blasted by wintry Chicago winds, would like to see rejected. It probably won't be, which would leave a potential rotation between Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit providing geographic balance and avoiding the still-looming specter of ever visiting the Metrodome again. The problem with those sites is capacity. 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; taking the bottom of the barrel for two rabid and reasonably local fanbases is a recipe for wasted money. ↵

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↵That might give Cleveland and Lambeau, each of which seats 12,000 more than Soldier Field, an edge when the Big Ten rotates the game to an outdoor venue. If you're going to put it outside you might as well take advantage of the ability to cram more people into the stands and get more money out of them. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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