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South Florida loses out to Atlanta for 2018 national championship game

New Falcons stadium chosen as host site; Bay area to host in 2019, New Orleans to host in 2020

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PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – South Florida may be hosting a playoff semifinal this season, but it won't be hosting a national championship game -- at least not any time before 2020.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, beating out South Florida, Houston and Santa Clara, California, in the San Francisco Bay area.

CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock made the announcement during a news conference Wednesday.

Santa Clara won the bid for 2019, and New Orleans won the bid for 2020.

Hancock said the selection process "was a very difficult decision" for the group.

South Florida has hosted 10 Super Bowls -- five at the defunct Orange Bowl and five at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens -- and four national championships under the old Bowl Championship Series system, but it faced stiff competition from the other bidding communities.

Sun Life Stadium is in the midst of undergoing a $400 million renovation to be completed in time for the 2016 season. The renovation project, which includes a canopy to protect fans from the rain, is intended to bring the 28-year-old stadium up to par with the amenity-rich stadiums of today.

Of the three winning championship sites, only one -- the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans -- won't be played at a venue built this decade. The new Atlanta Falcons stadium is scheduled to open in 2017, and Levi's Stadium, which is home to the San Francisco 49ers, opened last year.

Other cities that unsuccessfully bid for the games were Charlotte, Detroit, San Antonio and Minneapolis.

Hancock told reporters that any of the nine communities that bid on the games could have hosted this event, but in the end the bids of the winning cities were stronger than the rest.

"There were some state-of-the-art NFL stadiums that were not selected," Hancock said, possibly alluding to the new Minnesota Vikings stadium currently under construction in Minneapolis.

The inaugural CFP National Championship game was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This season's game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will host next season's game.

Hancock said there was a "strong desire" to move the game around, so the fact that Tampa is hosting in 2017 may have been a strike against South Florida.

With Wednesday's announcement, this means that each of the first six CFP National Championship games will be played in a different state.

The Orange Bowl is hosting a national semifinal game this New Year's Eve as part of a rotation with the Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Rose and Sugar bowls.

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