The glitter of the River Walk and the Alamodome`s functional qualities again proved irresistible for the Big 12 Conference. The conference made the long-rumored San Antonio as a announcement official Tuesday, bringing its football title game back to the Alamodome on Dec. 4.
It will be the second time in three years the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game will be played in San Antonio.
“I can say there is universal excitement about San Antonio as a site for our championship game,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Everybody was thrilled after that first year. A bunch of us have had the chance to come back with the Final Four in basketball last year. It`s a perfect city to host an event like this.”
The 1999 title game, featuring the regular-season champions of the league`s North and South divisions, will be organized locally by Alamo Bowl officials. The winner receives an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.
“We feel like we have a partnership with the city of San Antonio because one of our teams already comes to the Alamodome in the Alamo Bowl,” said Donnie Duncan, Big 12 associate commissioner and director of football operations. “The game in 1997 was a tremendous success for us. There`s no better place to go for our championship game than San Antonio.”
The `97 matchup of Nebraska and Texas A&M attracted an Alamodome-record crowd of 64,824. That attendance is the highest of the three Big 12 title games played.
“It`s great to have a chance to come back to San Antonio,” Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said. “We know it will be well-managed game and a great destination for Big 12 football fans.”
Alamo Bowl executive director Derrick Fox said approximately 40,000 tickets will be available locally for the 65,000-seat facility. Tickets, priced from $10 to $80, will go on sale later this summer and be available in a two-game package along with the SYLVANIA Alamo Bowl.
“We think the pricing structure will work in San Antonio,” Duncan said. “We talked with Derrick and thought he had a good idea for what his market could support.”
Big 12 athletic directors are eagerly anticipating bringing the championship game back to the Alamo City.
“I think we should be honored that they want to bring our game back,” Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. “We`re taking one of the Big 12`s premier events into a city like San Antonio, where more than 1.4 million people can share in the pride. I think something like this helps to sell the Big 12 and our football in South Texas.”
Texas A&M quarterback Randy McCown said last week that Aggies fans couldn`t wait for the game to return to San Antonio. The Aggies will be gunning for a record third straight berth in the championship game.
“People on campus are already talking about the game coming to San Antonio,” McCown said. “They`re excited about the game being played there again.”
Unlike `97, local organizers will not guarantee a sellout to the conference.
“That doesn`t bother me much,” Dodds said. “Whoever comes from the South I think will be able to travel strongly to San Antonio. I would worry about that a lot more in St. Louis than in San Antonio.”
San Antonio was the only city considered for the `99 game, according to Duncan. Several cities are expected to make bids when the game`s next contract will be discussed in upcoming meetings. Dodds favors settling upcoming sites for championship games in baseball, football and baseball at the same time. Previously, Kansas City, Mo., was awarded a four-year contract for men`s and women`s basketball as the conference`s first championship event. That contract will expire after next season, along with the current contract with Oklahoma City for the Big 12 baseball tournament.
More than 65,000 visitors came to San Antonio for the `97 championship game, which had a direct economic impact of about $20 million, Fox said.