PASADENA, CALIF. (AP) - The first championship game in the College Football Playoff will be held at Cowboys Stadium.
A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Arlington, Texas, has beaten out Tampa, Fla., in the bidding to be the site of the first title game in the new playoff system.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal vote by the BCS conference commissioners was scheduled for later Wednesday, and a formal announcement after that.
The game will be held Jan. 12, 2015.
The final three sites for the semifinal rotation will also be announced later. Cowboys Stadium, home of the Cotton Bowl, is expected to be among them. The other two will be the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
The Rose, Orange and Sugar bowls are already part of the six-bowl semifinal rotation. The Rose and Sugar will host the first semifinals on Jan. 1, 2015,
ESPN.com was first to report that Cowboys Stadium landed the first title game.
For the Cotton Bowl and its organizers, landing a spot in the rotation and the first title game is the culmination of a long slow return to prominence for a game with a rich history.
The game dates back to 1937 and has hosted some of the most memorable matchups in college football, including Notre Dame’s stirring comeback victory led by Joe Montana against Houston in the 1979 game.
But when the Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998, the Cotton Bowl was left out and lost much of its luster. Organizers for years tried to break into the BCS, but couldn’t overcome the limitations of their antiquated namesake stadium in Dallas.
Things turned for the Cotton Bowl when it moved out of the old stadium at the fairgrounds in 2010 and into the state-of-the-art, billion dollar Cowboys Stadium built by team owner Jerry Jones.
Cotton Bowl organizers again started to push for inclusion in the BCS. The game was moved to primetime, and with its Southeastern Conference-Big 12 matchup, had all the trimmings of a BCS event, even without its stamp of approval.
When the conference commissioners announced last year that the BCS would be abandoned for a four-team playoff starting in 2014, with the championship game bid out like a Super Bowl, it was all but assumed the Cotton Bowl would be part of the new system and that Cowboys Stadium would be a strong candidate to eventually host a championship game.
They didn’t have to wait long to accomplish both goals.
The Cotton Bowl will host a major bowl in the first season of the new format, likely on New Year’s Eve. It will host a national semifinal in one of the following two seasons.
Tampa made a strong push for the first championship game to be played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buccaneers and the Outback Bowl. But Jones’ football palace was too much to overcome.
The new postseason system was named the College Football Playoff by the conference commissioners Tuesday, the first of three days of meetings at a resort hotel a few miles from the Rose Bowl.
Once the sites are locked in, the only major remaining issue to tackle for the commissioners will be the composition and structure of the selection committee.
That won’t be finalized at these meetings, but it’s on the agenda and they would like to leave California with a framework in place.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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