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Las Vegas must wait to host college football championship

Updated April 5, 2022 - 1:45 pm

Las Vegas keeps landing one major sports event after another, but the city is on hold for now for the College Football Playoff National Championship until at least 2027.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said Tuesday that the current contract places the game around the same time as the Consumer Electronics Show, and that proved to be too great an obstacle.

A report in January said Allegiant Stadium would host the 2025 game, but it didn’t factor in the potential conflict with CES. Hancock and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said at that time they weren’t that far along in the selection process.

A new CFP contract will go into effect before the 2027 game, and the four-team field could be expanded, which likely would push the game later into January after CES ends.

“It’s probably too soon to think too much about that because of us not knowing our actual playing date for 2027,” Hancock said. “It’s too soon to speculate about (expansion), therefore it’s too soon to speculate about CES.”

CES often attracts more than 170,000 people to the Las Vegas Convention Center each January.

“That does fall in the same time frame right now as CES, which is really causing us not to be able to host that game,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill said in an extensive interview with the Review-Journal that was published Sunday.

Hill could not be reached for further comments.

Hancock said the CFP evaluates a number of factors when considering future sites, including the quality of hotels, venues, air service and history hosting major events.

“I don’t want to handicap anyone’s chances, but if you look at the things we look for … Las Vegas has all that,” Hancock said. “We haven’t yet worked with a host committee in Las Vegas, so with us anyway, there’s no track record of them being able to fulfill their obligations. But there’s a strong track record with other events, of them being very successful. I don’t want to make any predictions or overpromise, but we’ve certainly been impressed with what we’ve seen from Las Vegas.”

The 12-year CFP contract expires after the 2025 season and 2026 championship. There was a push to expand the number of playoff teams before it expired, but that move failed to get the required unanimous vote from the 10 FBS conferences plus Notre Dame.

When the next contract comes up, an agreement will not need to meet such a high threshold. Still, an agreement on whether to expand to eight, 12 or 16 teams, however, might not be easy to reach.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said before his conference’s football championship in December at Allegiant that he was in favor of a number of options under discussion.

“It’s a broken system,” Kliavkoff said. “We need to fix it.”

If Las Vegas eventually secures the championship, it will be the latest step in the city’s sports transformation.

Already this year, the city hosted the NFL and NHL all-star games, and later this month the NFL draft will take place on the Strip. National college football powers Notre Dame and Brigham Young will play Oct. 8 at Allegiant.

In the next two years, Las Vegas will be home to the Super Bowl, an NCAA men’s basketball regional, Formula One races and a Southern California-Louisiana State football game.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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