Big Ten Championship Game Moving to Chicago?

By Kyle Rowland on February 20, 2013 at 3:32p

The Big Ten Championship Game has been held at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium since the inaugural game in 2011. There has been grumbling that the game should be played in the elements – a hallmark of Midwestern football. Well, it looks like people might get their wish. has reported the city of Chicago not only started a sports commission, but hired the former head of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, which works in conjunction with the Indiana Sports Corp.

The ISC is one of the leading sports commissions in the country. The high-profile events that the city of Indianapolis has been able to attract are proof of that.

Indianapolis owns the Big Ten title game through 2015, but the bidding process for years beyond that are wide open.

Attendance has been a challenge in Indianapolis for the first two Big Ten football championships -- last year's event drew only 41,260 -- and also for some recent basketball tournaments. Chicago could have an easier time there because there are so many more Big Ten fans in the area. A bigger obstacle for the city could be logistics, as Soldier Field isn't nearly as centralized as Lucas Oil Stadium.

But (executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission Sam Stark) is confident his group can "shrink Chicago."


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smith5568's picture

I would love to see an outdoor Big Ten Championship game every year. 

Bucksfan's picture

You're definitely not going to get MORE fans if it's played outside, whether it's in Chicago or not.    B1G fans simply aren't sold on going to a Championship Game yet.  I don't know if it's that they'd rather hold out to spend their money on a trip to Pasadena, or if they're just overall uninterested.  I'd have thought the inaugural game rematch between Wisconsin and Michigan State would have been a tough ticket, and it was anything but.  Last year's game was pretty pathetic, seeing as it hosted Nebraska, a fan base that brags about their spring game attendance numbers.
If you want that game to be a sellout, you're going to need Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State represented at this point.

smartfootballrankings's picture

I dunno, Chicago is a much easier trip than a bowl game for fans in the area.  It's a desirable city to visit.  Who wants to go to Indy?  But make it in Chicago, and it's going to be a lot more fun.

Bucksfan's picture

I understand where you're coming from.  Chicago is an awesome town, lots to do and see and eat and drink, and a lot of alumni from all over the conference live there.  But it's also more expensive to visit than Indy, and the two cities are really only separated by about a 3 hour drive, so I don't know if I buy the "easier trip" thing.  I think what you'd gain by having it in a sweet town like Chicago you lose because it's an outdoor game.  Maybe I should have phrased it that way originally.
And as far as "who wants to go to Indy?" thing, they have hosted a lot of very successful sporting events over the years, from NCAA tournament games, the B1G basketball tournament, a wildly successful Super Bowl, and of course the Indy 500 is still the highest-attended single day sporting event in the world.  There's gotta be something to Indianapolis that keeps people coming back.
Another thing that's working against the B1G championship game being a sellout besides being in a neutral venue is the fact that most fan bases do not give a sh*t about the other teams in the league.  That's a big difference between the SEC and everyone else.  We're not exactly fans of B1G football, and therefore fans that aren't represented aren't necessarily going to make the trip...even if it's a 3 hour drive from Columbus to watch Nebraska. 

smartfootballrankings's picture

I'm not sure I said it's an easier trip.  It's a more fun experience.  It's closer for a lot of teams, like Wisconsin, Nebraska, etc... 
I'm not sure the Outdoor game is that big a deal.  The game is in early December, not February.  It's a week after the outdoor Michigan-Ohio State game.  It's Big Ten football the way the best Big Ten football games are played.  Outdoor is great for football.
How many people go to Indy other than for an event.  It's just not a fun place to visit.  People go to the Indy 500 not to have fun in Indy, but because the entire day is spent at the track and having fun at the atmosphere there.  That could just as easily be held in a field in Iowa, if they happened to build the track there.  I'm not sure how you are considering things as being successful.  I don't doubt that they are well run, facilities are decent, hotels/etc... are there, but it just does not excite me.  I will intentionally visit Chicago, though.
I don't think the SEC is selling out their championship games because Florida fans are showing up to watch Georgia-Alabama.  That place is going to be packed with Georgia-Alabama fans.  And have twice as many that want to get in that can't.  But Atlanta is a great place to visit, the fans are very enthusiastic, and the trip is manageable.  I am shocked that even with the sizes of the fanbases, Nebraska and Wisconsin cannot fill up that stadium.  It is mind-boggling to me that they are that pathetic.

ArTbkward's picture

Have you actually been to Indianapolis? 

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Deshaun's picture

First of all, we need to identify what this trip is. If you're taking a week+ vacation, Chicago offers a ton to do and is a great choice. But that is not the Big Ten Championship Game experience. Most people arrive Thursday or Friday, enjoy the festivities and game Saturday, then leave Sunday. People hear "Chicago" and think of all the cool things to do there (which are obvious and plentiful). But we're not talking about Ferris Bueller's Day Off here. Most of us will not pose as the Sausage King of Chicago to sneak in to Chez Quis. What you want from the host of a football championship game or basketball tournament is a centralized location with abundant hotel space within walking distance of Friday pep rallies, Saturday tailgates, the event itself, restaurants, bars, etc. With Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Fieldhouse, the convention center, and numerous hotels connected by a skywalk within a few miles of downtown, Indianapolis is tailor-made to host major events like this. In Chicago, only a few hotels are within a mile of Soldier Field (almost none within 3 miles of the United Center). Chicago is too spread out and shuttles/transportation is too inconvenient.

Second, a game with some championship (or playoff after next season) implications would generate the interest in fans of other Big Ten teams. In 2011, 2-loss #10 Wisconsin played 2-loss #17 Michigan State in a game with no national implications. In 2012, 2-loss #12 Nebraska played an unranked Wisconsin team with a 4-4 Big Ten record. Let's see what happens when an undefeated #1 Ohio State plays a 1-loss #4 Nebraska with a BCS Championship spot on the line. Or if a 1-loss #4 TTUN is playing a resurgent 1-loss #6 Iowa with a 4-team playoff spot available. Those games would likely be sell-outs with fans of uninvolved Big Ten teams even in attendance.

Finally, the Big Ten Championship game does need to be played indoors. As great as it is to see the game played in Columbus Thanksgiving weekend, all games of championship consequence (read: BCS/playoffs) are/will be played in warm weather and/or domed stadiums. As such, the Big Ten should advance teams able to succeed in weather-neutral environments.

Dr. House's picture

you sir get an up vote and this

Deshaun's picture

Thank you, Dr House. You have my respect on both the quintessential House icon and the classic Citizen Kane gif.

I have to correct one egregious typo, though. Indianapolis has several hotels located within a few BLOCKS downtown, not miles. Having been to a few major sporting events in Indy, it is amazing how ideal its layout is compared to other locations.

smartfootballrankings's picture

I'm not talking about a week-long vacation.  I'm talking about a weekend trip.  Show up on Friday, have a night out.  Do some stuff in the day, watch the game, have a few activities on Sunday and drive back Sunday or maybe Monday if you want to extend it. 
The basketball tournament is different because you have so many people coming in with so many different times of games you want to see, and multiple days of action.  A single football game is another story.
Chicago manages to get people to the Bears games.  There is a train.   People can stay all over the city.
I don't get this "other fans will show up" business.  I have a hard time believing that casual fans are going to show up (assuming ticket prices are what they should be) just to show up.  But even so, they are way more likely to show up in Chicago, where there are a ton more locals, than Indianapolis (where the locals will care more about basketball than football).
I do get your point about wanting to put the team forward that has the best chance of winning in a bowl game in warm weather.  I'm not sure how much that will be true going forward with the bidding for championship games.  I would not be surprised if NYC got the championship game one year.  But it will be more likely than not the game will be in a comfortable environment most of the time.

Bucksfan's picture

I'm telling you, man, the SEC championship game is a major draw that attracts fans of all SEC fanbases.  Hell, marquee regular season SEC matchups are must-see events for fans of all the different schools.  Cheap seats were $400 bucks last year, and everyone knew the winner was going to end up in the most expensive bowl game.  In 2011, Sparty had a chance to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years, and Stubhub price for that B1G champ game was $14.  And it wasn't $14 because the game is in Indy, and no one wants to go to Indy...Indy's history as a host city simply doesn't support that notion.  It's simply a different animal in the SEC.  I hate it, too, but you need to understand it.
And yeah, more casual fans might show up to watch the B1G Championship if it were played in Chicago, but you better hope for mid-40's and calm winds.  People are not going to board a suburban train for an hour ride to Soldier Field to watch #8 Penn State vs. #17 Iowa in a -15 degree wind chill.  Ain't gonna happen.  Hell, you'd be hard-pressed to get a college friend to pick you up at O'Hare if you're stuck in Chicago because of bad weather, simply because it sucks to go outside in that city in the winter.
The B1G championship will be a bigger draw when the B1G becomes something people actually want to watch.  Indy is a fine city to showcase it.  Chicago would be a pain in the ass.

M Man's picture

If the B1G arbitrarily determined that the championship game just had to be in a domed stadium (we are talking about well into freaking December, after all!) what are the choices, besides Indianapolis and Detroit?

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Minneapolis, but who knows how much longer the dome will be there.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

ArTbkward's picture

Attendance hasn't been a challenge for Indianapolis.  It's been a challenge for MSU vs Wisconsin and Nebraska vs Wisconsin.  Indianapolis is a fantastic city for sporting events, I attended the first B1G Championship game and had a good time considering I didn't care who won.  I would even argue that Indy is better than Chicago in a lot of ways.  It's cheaper and more easily accessible for starters.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

d1145fresh's picture

100% Agree. If When OSU is playing in the Championship game this year the place will be sold out and packed. Also as the B1G continues to gain more schools in the Eastern side of the conference Indy makes more sense geographically than Chicago. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Just move it to Ohio already. You know, the state where CFB is a big deal.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

BuckeyeSki's picture


Somebody grab Borges over there and ask him how we get to Chicago while finishing in 2nd every year!?? And somebody get me some ribs!!!!!

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Nkohl13's picture

It should be at the home stadium of the team with the better record/ head to head win/ higher ranking.

luckynewman13's picture

The Pac-12 does that now but I believe they are changing it. The reason being that many seasons you would not know in which stadium the game would be played until just 7 days prior. Or in the Pac-12's case, 6 days prior (their CCG was on a Friday, something they will also change). From what I understand, this is very difficult logistically.

btalbert25's picture

It won't happen til Urban Meyer says it's ok.  The conference needs to ask him first, then everyone else can deal with his decision.

Notor's picture

Chicago would definitely be a lot more unpleasant for the fans attending the game, but there's no question there are more B1G alumni in that city than any other in our footprint. It would also be nice for the rest of the country to see the championship game get played in authentic weather conditions. Something about cold weather just makes football games seem more visceral and intense. You can't replicate that in an indoor setting, which seems more tame in comparison.

northcampus's picture

Attendance is an issue because many people have less disposable income to burn up and a league title game with a 5 loss school in the game doesn't really scream 'must attend' to many folks.  I don't think sports venues struggling to fill seats will go away anytime soon.  The usual suspects (OSU, UM, etc) will continue to draw huge crowds and sell out, but people are fooling themselves if they think non-blue blood programs are going to get fan's attention (and more importantly, money) in the current economic state of America.

J.Mo's picture

I would prefer Chicago over Indy (and I live in Columbus and will go to the game), I like the idea of playing in the elements. 

RedStorm45's picture

Not sure this makes sense...the conference geographics as a whole are moving east with expansion, and could move the majority of teams further east with the potential additions of UNC, UVA, etc. out of the ACC.  Indy is very centrally located, and Chicago is quite a trip for PSU, Maryland, Rutgers, even OSU.  I thought Indy made a lot of sense because it's hard for any fanbase to argue that it should be closer to them.  And, if attendance is an issue, how is making it outdoors going to help?

Bucksfan's picture

UNC, UVA, Rutgers or Maryland making it to the B1G championship game?!

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Are you suggesting the CCG be moved to Cleveland?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

RedStorm45's picture

No, not sure where you got that.  I'm saying the conference is expanding east and the champ. game could move west?  Indy is fairly central for all schools and it should stay there.

Indy_Buck87's picture

Indy is far and away a better choice.  I live here and the attendance the two years had more to do with the matchup than an interest level.  From a travel cost perspective and Lucas oil being an indoor facility that is centrally located with a great downtown. You could not ask for much more. Plus the super bowl here last here shattered attendance records for both the NFL experience and the super bowl village. Almost double what new Orleans did this year.  When OsU fans sell this out every year with an easy 3 hour drive to Indy they"ll be changing the mind. 

I know of only two things that are infinite, space and human stupidity.....and I'm not sure about space". Albert Einstein.

Dr. House's picture

everything about this comment is right. last years game was terrible frankly the game was over by the end of the first half. now the michigan state and wisconsin match up was far better with a better turn out. ohio state makes the game the place will have no problem selling out.

Nappy's picture

Indy resident as well.  We're also about 6 hours from the majority of schools in the B1G making an easy trip for most fan bases.  Although that is bound to change with expansion.  I'd have no problem playing in the elements, which if that's a reason to move the game, they could just open the roof of Lucas.  Attendance won't be an issue if OSU is playing and I plan on making the 10 minute drive from my house to Lucas every December for the next couple years.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

cajunbuckeye's picture

My preference would be the Superdome. Since that isn't going to happen, let's keep in Indy. Ease of access, great city, good prices, and a heated domed stadium. I usually spill a beer on my leg at some point before the final gun sounds. I can't imagine sitting at Soldiers' in 28 degree weather with a wet leg.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

William's picture

Football was meant to be played outdoors. It's that simple. 

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

+1000 sir, on grass as well. 

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Nappy's picture

They can always just open the roof at Lucas.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Ahh Saturday's picture

The Bears will play at least a couple of home games AFTER the B1G championship game is played, more if --God willing--they get home field for the playoffs.  I can't believe some of the weather comments made by people who presumably have at least spent a couple years of their lives somewhere in Ohio.  Man up, put on a sweater if you have to, and go watch a football game.  And as someone who has lived in Chicago for 20 years, I can promise you that you'll have a lot more fun here than in Indianapolis.

Dougger's picture

I haven't been in Lucas Oil Stadium, but I've been to Indianapolis twice for concerts and enjoyed the downtown. It felt like a smaller Columbus.
For me I feel like this is a catch-22. When they were talking about where the playoffs were going to be played, I wanted the SEC teams to come here. But for a championship game, if we lost I would more than likely blame it on the weather if it were crappy. And I was told by my Chicago friend who's a big Bears fan that Soldier Field is one of the worst because they routinely let high school teams play on it. Is there truth to that anyone?
I do love Chicago's Ohio State bar downtown however. I met one of the most stunning women ever laid eyes on who was the bartender, but very very very very surprisingly she was a Michigan grad, and this was right after the Tressel resigning/firing so instead of wooing her I just said my football teams better than yours, and proceeded to drink heavily.

I like football

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Soldier Field turf is terrible. Well-documented as one of the worst in the league. Maybe chance to host B1G championship game would entice ownership to upgrade.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I went to a Colts Browns game in Indy this year. I felt like I was watching the game in a giant...quiet...boring living room.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Lincoln's picture

I love Indy. Its a great little city, with lots to do that is only an hour and a 1/2 from where I live.
But I also wouldn't mind making a weekend of going to 3 Floyd's brewery (only the #1 rated brewery in the world according to rate beer) on Friday night. Getting up and going to Soldier Field on Saturday and then downtown Chicago after that.
I would think this would have to be an afternoon start.

Dr. House's picture

3 floyd's is out standing. if you have the chance to get dark lord day tickets do. zombie dust is by far the best beer they offer though.

AndyVance's picture

Indy's a great city to visit, with a very nice downtown area; lots of restaurants within walking distance of the really nice hotels. As others have noted, this is more of an issue of uninspiring games and, perhaps, a fanbase that is very used to going to warmer climates a few weeks later for a Bowl Game.

Borrowed Time's picture

well I live in Chicago so.. bring the championship game here!

buckeyedude's picture

I'd go to either Indy or Chicago. Both are about the same distance from Toledo.
My only concern is for the players: the teams play all season outdoors, and then have a championship game indoors. Some teams might have an advantage over another, playing indoors vs. outdoors.



Dr. House's picture

I am confused on why are you concerned about the teams playing inside instead of outside?

Doc's picture

I'm all for it.  Bring on B1G football in December.  Rotating it between Indy and Chitown might not be the worst idea they've had cough leaders cough legends cough.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

AndyVance's picture

I'd be on board with a rotational concept - spend a few years at LucasOil and then a few a Soldiers Field, or alternate years back and forth, perhaps. With all of the Eastern and Southern teams we're courting now, Pittsburgh's Heinz Field might even be in the mix at some point, though that would just be weird.

Dr. House's picture

Heinz Field ehhh i dont know about that one. I can only imagine how terrible that field would be that late in the season after the steelers, panthers, high schools all play there. There is a reason why Heinz Field is ranked as one of the worse fields in the league.

Poison nuts's picture

I like the idea of the game being played outdoors. That's football. You get get your warm weather reward at the bowl games. If you can play outdoors in December, you'll be fine in Pasedena...Similarly, if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Having lived both in and just outside of Chicago for half of my 45 years (the other half in Ohio), I've yet to hear one person propose a road trip to Indy.... for anything. I'm sure it's a fine town, but to compare it straight-up to Chicago (aside from proximity and, I guess, price) is silly.
That said, I would love to see them pick a year and try it at Soldier Field, but I doubt it would take if a team lost a chance at the NCG in a game played in very cold, snowy weather. Then again, the NFL does it every year.