Bill Hancock 'intrigued' by renovations to Sun Life Stadium

College Football Playoff executive director visits South Florida during pitch...

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – College Football Playoff executives were in South Florida on Wednesday to tour the area as part of the formal process to host the 2018 National Championship.

South Florida is competing with Atlanta, Houston and Santa Clara, California, for the right to host college football's biggest game.

CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told Local10.com that his group will take into consideration 30 to 50 factors in determining which community wins the bid. Among the factors, Hancock said, are the condition of the host stadium, hotel availability, air service and the community's ability to stage a big event.

"And we've had plenty of big events here in South Florida," he said.

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 faces stiff competition from the other bidding communities.

"The track record is important, but actually all the cities in the hunt have good track records on significant events, so we're going to be in good shape no matter which direction we go," Hancock, who previously served as executive director of the BCS, said.

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.

Sun Life Stadium's direct competition includes the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, which is currently under construction, and the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi's Stadium, which opened last season.

"We like the stadium. The stadium always delivered for us with the Orange Bowl, with the BCS games," Hancock said. "However, you can't sit still with a stadium. The new stadiums coming online are so tremendous that stadium operators have to keep up, and I am very intrigued by what's happening with the stadium here. It will position the city in a better place to host big-time events like ours."

NRG Stadium is the second-oldest venue behind Sun Life Stadium competing to host the game. It opened when the Houston Texans began play in 2002.

Charlotte, North Carolina, Detroit, New Orleans and San Antonio are bidding for the 2019 game, while the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis is bidding to host the 2020 game.

NRG Stadium and Levi's Stadium are bidding for all three years. Charlotte, New Orleans and San Antonio are bidding for the 2019 and 2020 games.

Hancock said the most significant feature of the renovations to Sun Life Stadium, in his opinion, is bringing the seats closer to the field.

"The best part is having a little more intimate setting," he said.

Hancock said his group hasn't finished touring all the potential host sites, so it's premature to say how South Florida compares. Hancock said that South Florida's failed bids to host the 2016 or 2017 games weren't because they were unimpressive. It was just that the other cities "simply submitted better bids."

"South Florida's bid was just fine, but the other cities that got it -- Phoenix and Tampa -- just batted 1000," he said.

Hancock said his group will be reviewing all the bids during the next two months and believes a final decision will be made the first week of November.

Even if South Florida loses out, the Orange Bowl will continue to be part of the CFP semifinal rotation. The Orange Bowl will host its first semifinal game on New Year's Eve.

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