Championship Preparations

Officials get head start on readying AT&T Stadium for first College Football Playoff championship

Officials ready AT&T Stadium for College Football Playoff championship

Cowboys Stadium
AT&T Stadium will host the college football season opener as well as the first playoff championship series. Photo courtesy of Dallas CVB
Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff championship game executive director
College Football Playoff championship game executive director Bill Hancock. Photo by Matthew Postins
Texas A&M football players
Johnny Manziel played at AT&T Stadium for the Cotton Bowl in 2012. Texas A&M University/Facebook
Final Four at AT&T Stadium
AT&T Stadium hosted the 2014 NCAA Final Four. Photo by Claire St. Amant
Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium
It's been a while since the Cowboys had any real reason to celebrate at AT&T Stadium. AT&T Stadium/Facebook
Cowboys Stadium
Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff championship game executive director
Texas A&M football players
Final Four at AT&T Stadium
Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium

Less than five months away from the first College Football Playoff championship game, executive director Bill Hancock says preparations for the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington are moving along nicely. Or as nicely as preparations for a game with this many moving parts can move along.

“There are 4 million details that have to be handled, and we’re making good progress with all of them,” Hancock says.

AT&T Stadium has grown accustomed to hosting massive sporting events since it opened in 2009. That includes the Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Final Four. This fall the venue will host three neutral site college games — including the August 30 season opener between defending national champion Florida State and Oklahoma State — and the Cotton Bowl before the national championship game on January 12, 2015.

 AT&T Stadium opens the college football season on August 30 when it hosts defending national champion Florida State and Oklahoma State.

So Jerry World will get plenty of rehearsal before the big night.

“For me, my experience with the BCS and the 16 years I was with the NCAA [basketball] tournament makes this easier,” Hancock says. “A big event is a big event no matter what sport it is.” 

Arlington and AT&T Stadium won the bidding process for the College Football Playoff’s first championship game, with Glendale, Arizona, and Tampa, Florida, to follow the next two years. At the end of the 2015 season, the Cotton Bowl will serve as one of the sites for a national semifinal game, prompting Hancock to say the area “won twice.”

The Hobart, Oklahoma, native — who at one time ran the Bowl Championship Series out of his home office — says having the first national championship determined by a playoff system in the North Texas area is fitting.

“The stadium, the staff, the transportation, the lodging, the culture of college football played into this decision,” Hancock says. “It’s a natural. This area for so long has been in love with college football. And now they’re getting their rewards.”

As for the game, Hancock says capacity for the championship game is set at 80,000, which is the stadium’s listed capacity, and it was recently announced that the top ticket price for the game would be $650. Of course, AT&T Stadium has seen its share of large crowds, with the venue record of 108,713 set during the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. The Cowboys managed 105,121 for their stadium opener on September 20, 2009, and Super Bowl XLV drew 103,219.

Hancock gave no reason for settling on the stadium’s listed capacity instead of seeking to set an attendance record for a college football national championship game.

“We could have gone bigger. We could have gone smaller,” Hancock says. “But we decided 80,000 was the number. Fans won’t notice anything different from a Cowboys game or the Florida State-Oklahoma State game.”

Hancock praised the staff at AT&T Stadium, calling the facility “one of the best-run facilities I’ve ever been involved with.”

Jaded Cowboys fans will probably remark that it might be the only postseason football action AT&T Stadium will get this season. If nothing else, that means the College Football Playoff championship game would get its undivided attention.

“It’s a fabulous stadium, and we couldn’t have picked a better location,” Hancock says.