published Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Title game fight heating up

Audio clip

Scott Smith

In less than a month, representatives from Chattanooga and Frisco, Texas, will be in Indianapolis making their presentations to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee.

Both cities are trying to earn the NCAA's nod to host the next three Football Championship Subdivision national title games, and they will present their cases on Feb. 25. Chattanooga and Finley Stadium have been the home of the game for the past 13 years, while Frisco, a Dallas suburb, is trying to bring the game to Pizza Hut Park.

Greater Chattanooga Sports & Events Committee president Scott Smith said he and his staff have been working on the presentation. This is just the second time Chattanooga has had to bid on the game since it became the host site in 1997.

"It's such a gray area for us because you don't want to overstate the obvious since the game's been here 13 years," he said, "but then you don't want to overlook something that may seem unimportant to us but be important to them."

Frisco officials are also working on their presentation, and this week they launched an online ticket pledge initiative on the Web site collegefootballfrisco.com. On the Web site, visitors can express an interest in buying tickets should Frisco be awarded the game, though there is no obligation to purchase tickets at a later date.

"It's just a way for us to gauge interest and show the NCAA that the interest exists," Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said. "If we didn't have a good sense that there would be a high level of interest, we wouldn't have (bid)."

Maso said he didn't have any pledge numbers yet since the site has been up for less than a week, but he said he gets plenty of feedback elsewhere.

"I have several ways I communicate, though e-mails, Facebook and that kind of thing, and there's a lot of excitement," he said.

Chattanooga doesn't need to do a pledge initiative since it has actual ticket sales numbers to present to the NCAA. The paid attendance for the 2009 title game between Montana and Villanova was 14,328.

That's the lowest total since 2003, yet it included a record 10,651 tickets sold locally through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga box office or online.

Even though the Sports Committee hasn't initiated a pledge drive, there is a way for those interested in keeping the game in Chattanooga to show their support. A "Friends of the FCS National Championship Game in Chattanooga" Facebook page was created Tuesday and it had 296 members as of 8:30 Wednesday night.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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