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November 4, 2015

Bill Hancock

Grapevine, Texas

GINA LEHE: Welcome again to this afternoon's teleconference regarding the College Football Playoff National Championship game site selections. At this time I would like to turn it over to Bill Hancock for a quick intro and welcome.

BILL HANCOCK: Hey, everybody. Thank you for being here today. This is indeed a very exciting day for college football and for College Football Playoff, as we announced the sites for the fourth, fifth and sixth championship games.

This process began in January, and we're just delighted and honored by the response from these nine wonderful communities, and I want to first of all thank them all for their remarkable dedication and their attention to detail.

The management committee, the College Football Playoff management committee, made the decision this morning, concluding many hours of deliberation, and it was a very difficult decision for our group because any of the nine cities could have hosted this event. Unfortunately only three spots are available, and we are just delighted to welcome those three cities into the College Football Playoff family for the rest of this decade, at least.

Q. Can you tell me was anything particular about Atlanta's bid that put them over the top for that '18 game?
BILL HANCOCK: Yes. The opportunity to play in that brand-new stadium, state-of-the-art stadium, the concise footprint, and that is, hotels, space for ancillary events, and the stadium, and of course the excellent air service, which will be particularly important in 2018 because there's only a week between the semifinal games and the championship game.

Q. Obviously there were no real concerns about the fact that you couldn't look at a completed stadium?
BILL HANCOCK: Well, we got a very solid look at the stadium. They're on a good timetable, and obviously the stadium will be opened up, what, a year and nine months before our game. So no concerns.

Q. What was the level of desire to play the game, play a game in New Orleans, given its history going back to the BCS days?
BILL HANCOCK: Well, there was a level of desire to play in New Orleans but not because of the history, because of an excellent bid that people worked very hard on, and a community that fans have really enjoyed in the past. You know, big ol' stadium, concise, walkable downtown, footprint, great support from the Sugar Bowl staff and committee and others in the community who made their bid happen. We're delighted to be returning to New Orleans.

Q. One other thing: Going to a new location like Santa Clara, does that show that maybe going forward in the second half of the 12-year arrangement that this is going to be wide open for any city that can put together a competitive bid?
BILL HANCOCK: It was extremely competitive this time and will be even more competitive in a couple of years when we begin to look at the seventh, eighth and ninth games. I think Santa Clara, as much as anything, shows that we are -- well, they have a tremendous stadium. San Jose gives us a very nice footprint there. But it also shows that we are serious in our desire to move this event around. You know, Northern California has never hosted a College Football National Championship Game, and we're delighted that we are able to move it around.

One thing of interest is that with the site selection, each of the first six games, championship games, will be played in a different state, and I have to say, I don't know that I was aware of that until this morning when we were finishing things up. But I was aware of the fact that we have a strong desire to move it around, and I don't think that desire is exemplified in any way any stronger than six years, six different states. I think that says it all.

Q. To what degree was the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance discussed during the meeting today, and what if any impact did that have on your decision? And as a follow to that, based on the fact that you mentioned the six different states and the concise venue patterns, does the fact that the game had been already in Arlington and does the configuration between the convention center and downtown and the stadium on the loop have any impact on Houston's chances of hosting this game?
BILL HANCOCK: I may not be able to remember all those. I may have to ask you to ask me a couple again.

But the political considerations did not enter into this discussion in any way.

I'll say this about Houston: Because of the strong competition from other cities, we were able to consider the fact that Houston has the Super Bowl and Final Four on the docket before the College Football Playoff. Now, there's a couple years in between, but again, because of the strong competition we were able to consider that.

Houston had a terrific bid, excellent stadium. It's one of those examples of how difficult this was and how close these cities were together. I'll also say that in two of the years, 2018 and 2019, brand-new stadiums were chosen instead of Houston, but for 2020, the committee liked everything about Houston. It's just that frankly New Orleans just came out ahead.

Q. You had mentioned the six different states in six different years. I didn't know if that perhaps played an impact, and also the fact that you mentioned that Atlanta has probably a more concise footprint than Houston does where you have the convention center downtown and then you have the stadium several miles away on the south loop.
BILL HANCOCK: Yeah, you know, every city has advantages in some areas, and Houston has its, but the fact is that in Atlanta, in New Orleans, the footprint is a little more concise. But having said that, Santa Clara offers a footprint in downtown San Jose but obviously not as much right around the stadium. So I wouldn't read too much into the footprint matter, but of course we know quite well the Houston footprint.

Someone asked me why this meeting was in Chicago, and it's because our group, management committee, meets at the same time as the Collegiate Commissioners' Association meeting, and the CCA meeting is in Chicago, so that's why we're here in Chicago.

Q. Did the relationship with the College Football Playoff has with the six bowls come into a factor at all? I know that you've got the National Championship taking place in six different states, but that's also broken down into four cities that also host semifinal games.
BILL HANCOCK: It came into a factor in one way for sure, in that the city cannot host the semifinals and the championship game both in the same year, and so as an example of that, then Miami was not able to bid in 2019 because they have the semifinals. And same for Atlanta for 2020.

You know, we discussed the fact that those six cities that host the semifinals have already been selected by our group and rewarded with the opportunity to participate in the College Football Playoff, that is. It was not a deciding factor by any means, but we did take note of that fact.

Q. Was there any other thing specifically good or bad from 2015 that factored into other cities not being able to get that like you said before, with Detroit not having the ability to use the convention center whereas obviously in 2015 you had the convention center and that was obviously a main marquee point of where things were happening?
BILL HANCOCK: You know, we learned a lot in 2015, almost all of it good. We learned that we need a big, vibrant convention center that people can go to and are accustomed to going to, and we learned that our event is only going to grow over time. Dallas's stadium did a great job. We had a great atmosphere. We learned we can turn into stadium into a stadium with a collegiate feel.

I don't think we really learned anything else that really played strongly into this decision, no.

Q. Then lastly, did the willingness of each city's ability, willingness to participate in like brand exposure, I know like in Dallas you had the Omni and other areas in Dallas that were plastered all over with branding of the College Football Playoff; did each committee's bid taking that role on affect it in any way?
BILL HANCOCK: Branding is important to our event, and we had tremendous branding in Dallas, and we were going to be able to do similar or even enhanced branding in every one of these nine cities. So no, it wasn't a factor.

Q. Could you explain how you guys may use the Super Bowl in February to answer some questions or get ahead of the game for the Levis hosting in a couple years?
BILL HANCOCK: Yes. We, I'm sure, will have a party traveling to Santa Clara, San Jose, for the Super Bowl. Frankly I don't think many of us will go to the bowl game, but we will want to check out transportation, the hotels, the decor in the stadium, the backstage of the stadium. There's no other football event except Super Bowl that puts that same kind of requirement on stadiums that ours does.

We're going to learn a great deal from that Super Bowl.

Q. Can you go over the tickets breakdown for the championship game? Are some allocated locally for sale, or how does that work?
BILL HANCOCK: Yeah, I can. Of course we don't know how it will be by the time we get to games four, five, six exactly, but generally each team gets around 20,000 tickets. Then a pool is allocated for the general public, random selection process. There is additionally a small block that will go to the local organizing committee for their use. The first couple of sites have used that to some extent for fundraising and for other local purposes.

There is another process where folks can provide bids, and if their team gets in, then they're awarded tickets through that.

So there's several ways for the general public to get tickets, and again, we know how it was in year one. We know how it will be this year in year two. We sort of have an idea about year three. But as far as years four, five, six go, we really don't know for sure.

Q. But as of now, there's not a specific number of block of tickets that are just for sale locally, right? It's the random selection process is a national sale, right? Am I understanding that correctly?
BILL HANCOCK: Yeah, that's correct, and if the first two years are any guide, we can expect a lot of interest from local people in that random selection process. I think there will be a lot of Atlanta folks entering that, which by the way, doesn't cost any money. They just have to enter, and then we notify them a few months later whether they were selected or not.

We did that this year, and we had interest -- I'm sorry?

Q. Roughly how many tickets are in the random process?
BILL HANCOCK: This year the number was about 5,000, about.

Q. I had one other kind of unrelated question. Were the bids from the nine cities financially, were the bids, the budgets roughly equivalent, or was there a pretty wide spectrum there? How would you characterize that?
BILL HANCOCK: The budgets were roughly equivalent from all nine. The budgets as it turned out at the end of this was not a significant factor. We were blessed with cities that knew what to do and knew how to budget, and that's part of the reason why I said earlier, any of the nine could have hosted this event, it's just too bad we only had three slots available.

Q. What specifically were the concerns about bringing the event to San Antonio?
BILL HANCOCK: Oh, boy. San Antonio is a great city, great LOC, terrific support from the municipal government. I just have to say that in the environment we're in today, the current stadiums -- the other stadiums that were available to us, San Antonio Stadium just doesn't measure up to the others. That's what it came down to. It just came down to that game facility.

While it does meet our base needs, it just doesn't measure up to the other stadiums that happened to be available in this bidding process. But I can't stress enough that we're very fond of San Antonio as a place to host events, and people love San Antonio. As you know, I was involved in a significant way in the Final Fours we had there when I was with the NCAA. Just great people, great destination. People love it there. But the stadium, even with the improvements that we saw when we visited there this summer, just doesn't rank up with the others that were selected.

I will point out that there were some state-of-the-art NFL stadiums that were not selected, that were also not selected. So that's the kind of, I don't know, riches we had at our disposal in terms of stadiums.

Q. As the event grows bigger in the future, is there any way San Antonio would be able to be competitive, other than maybe building a new stadium?
BILL HANCOCK: You know, I think without major changes in the stadium, major improvements in the stadium, it will be a long putt for San Antonio. And of course we know about the changes that are already in the mix, but again, it's hard to quantify because we don't know what the pool of bidding cities will be next time. But I think without major changes in the stadium, for our event at least, it will be a long putt.

GINA LEHE: Thank you, everyone, for joining our call this afternoon. That concludes the session.

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