Is this the day New Orleans breaks its three-game losing streak?
After an unprecedented run of failure to land any of the major sporting events that have put the city in the athletic spotlight over the past half-century, local officials are counting on having made a successful bid for the 2019 or 2020 College Football Playoff championship game.
The sites of those two games, plus the 2018 game, will be announced at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Chicago on ESPN.
“I’d say we’re ‘cautiously optimistic,’ said Allstate Sugar Bowl Chief Operating Officer Jeff Hundley, who is chairman of the New Orleans College Championship Committee. “There’s certainly nothing that’s transpired that has soured us on the process.
“But we won’t know until we find out at the same time as everyone else.”
It’s the second time New Orleans has gone after the CFP game, which replaced the BCS championship which the city hosted four times between 2000-2012 under the auspices of the Sugar Bowl.
Two years ago, New Orleans’ bid for either the 2016 or 2017 games — which are now being made by cities rather than bowl games — fell short as Glendale, Arizona, and Tampa landed the title games for this season and next year.
Last year, Minneapolis beat out New Orleans for the 2018 Super Bowl, marking the first time city had not been awarded a Super Bowl on which it had bid. Also last year, a bid for any of the 2017-20 Final Fours went to four other cities.
The next round of Super Bowls and Final Fours will be awarded next year. But the CFP game marks the first time to bounce back from the disappointments of the past two years.
“We were confident with our bid the last time,” Hundley said. “But the fact of the matter was that the other cities were throwing more money at them than we were.
“It’s an even more competitive environment this time. But we’ve checked a lot more boxes than we did the first time, too.”
Houston, San Antonio, Detroit, Charlotte and the Bay Area are the other bidders for the 2019 game. Minnesota replaces Detroit among the cities seeking the 2020 game.
South Florida, Atlanta, Houston and the Bay Area also are competing for the 2018 game, which New Orleans cannot bid on because the Sugar Bowl is a CFP semifinal that season.
The decision will be made the commissioners of the 10 FBS conferences plus Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.
Swarbrick is also chairman of the site selection subcommittee, which will make the recommendation to the larger group.
“Our staff is very involved in the nuts and bolts details, and we’ve made this a very businesslike process,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said. “After just one year, I think people realize that we have an iconic event on the level with a Super Bowl and Final Four.
“The cities recognize that, and that’s why we have such dynamic bids.”
While the 16 BCS title games were limited to the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose bowls, the CFP has opened up the possibilities to any other city.
Detroit and Minneapolis are bidding, fulfilling a desire by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney to have at least one title game in the Midwest. Houston and San Antonio are considered in the mix as well, especially because of the state funding process that provides Texas cities a financial leg up.
Charlotte, North Carolina, and Santa Clara, California, site of the Levi’s Stadium, look to be outsiders at this point but could be putting themselves in position to land future games.
South Florida and Atlanta, which will be opening its new stadium in 2017, are regarded as top contenders for 2018.
“We have a much-better understanding of the bid process now,” said Orange Bowl Executive Director Eric Poms, who is heading the South Florida bid. “Our tradition is obviously strong, just like it at the Sugar Bowl.
“But now you’ve got to approach this like you were bidding on a Super Bowl.”
Similarly, Hundley said part of the New Orleans bid has been emphasizing the Sugar Bowl’s longtime standing in college football, including its status as the site of four CFP semifinals and the alliance with the SEC and Big 12.
Those games will not be affected by the way the title game bid goes.
“We made it known to our partners that we are very interested in hosting the championship game,” he said. “But we also understand that we’re also competing at the highest level.
“We’ve not taken anything for granted. Our bid reflects how much this means to us.”