While Atlanta runs toward a new billion-dollar football stadium, SEC teams flock to the old Georgia Dome

New Georgia Dome

Coming off easily the most entertaining SEC Championship Game in recent years between two highly ranked teams in Alabama and Georgia, SEC football is big business in Atlanta, Georgia.

The annual SEC Championship game has been joined by quality games sponsored by Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A both in the beginning of the season and during bowl season. This year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl is one of the more interesting matchups – more interesting than many of the actual BCS bowls – in LSU taking on Clemson. Two good brands of football will square off with a number of playmakers on the field.

Also in the news this week is that LSU is also considering taking part in a future Chick-fil-A kickoff game to start the season in the future.

Recent Chick-fil-A kickoff games:

  • 2008: Alabama 34, Clemson 10
  • 2009: Alabama 34, Virginia Tech 24
  • 2010: LSU 30, UNC 24
  • 2011: Boise State 35, Georgia 21
  • 2012: Tennessee 35, NC State 21
  • 2012: Clemson 26, Auburn 19

Future games scheduled are:

  • 2013: Alabama vs Virginia Tech
  • 2014: Ole Miss vs Boise State
  • 2014: Alabama vs West Virginia
  • 2015: Auburn vs Virginia (not official yet)

A 2015 game in Atlanta for LSU could be a possibility even if the Auburn/Virginia matchup gets confirmed.

LSU is scheduled to take part in a kick-off game in Arlington, Texas again at the start of the 2013 season against TCU. Kudos to LSU and Alabama for scheduling so many interesting non-conference games to start the season!

As talk continues of major college football games taking place in Atlanta, it looks like a new stadium might break ground in the near future:

Team owner Arthur Blank says they do. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority which owns the existing Georgia Dome agrees, voting unanimously in favor of a new $1 billion retractable roof stadium to open in 2017. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is on board.

And now none other than former Gov. Zell Miller has weighed in with a ringing endorsement of the proposed stadium. In an op-ed in this newspaper Tuesday, Miller pointed to the success of the Dome — two Super Bowls, the annual SEC football championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, two basketball Final Fours with the third slated next April, numerous other events, and of course, the 1996 Olympics. “The Dome was a missing piece of the puzzle that enabled us to land the Olympics,” he wrote.

With all the SEC action in Atlanta, why is a new stadium needed? Well, because that’s just what NFL team owners and local politicians do. They build stadiums.

New Georgia Dome

While the Atlanta Falcons of course have been pushing for a new stadium for some time, local politicians argue for it to be built in order for the city to remain competitive in attractive major sporting events. Well, it looks like the SEC isn’t concerned with the Georgia Dome.

The new stadium is not being sold as simply a new playing field for the Atlanta Falcons. The selling point is that a new stadium is needed to keep Atlanta in the competition for the biggest and best sports events — think Super Bowl — and major conventions. Chairman Tim Lowe of the Congress Center Authority said in announcing the pro-stadium vote that it will give Atlanta the opportunity to “compete nationally for prominent events of the next 30-plus years.” It will, he said, open the way for Atlanta “to remain a premier sports and entertainment complex.”

Will plans to build a new stadium in Atlanta help Atlanta win one of the so-called “access bowls” for the new postseason “BCS” rotation? Perhaps.




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