Big 12

Big 12 brings championship game to Arlington on five-year deal

The Big 12 will bring its football conference championship game to Arlington for the next five years, league officials announced Friday.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington will be the site of next year’s resurrected football title game, the league’s first since the 2010 season, as part of a five-year agreement that assures the Big 12 championship will be decided at the home of the Dallas Cowboys during the 2017-21 seasons.

Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, made the announcement Friday. The 2017 contest will feature the top two finishers in the conference standings in the 10-member league. That means the championship game will be a rematch of a regular-season contest because the Big 12 plans to keep its nine-game, round-robin football schedule.

The contest, which is projected to provide an extra $3 million per year in revenues to each league member, was approved at the Big 12 spring meetings in a unanimous vote of league presidents and will be held on an annual basis through the 2024 season. Other venues bidding to host the 2017 title game included Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. and the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“There is great anticipation with the return of the Big 12 football championship and we look forward to hosting the event in AT&T Stadium for the next five years,” Bowlsby said in a prepared statement. “The building is a state-of-the-art facility and offers many amenities that will be enjoyed by out institutions and fans.”

Under terms of existing television agreements, Fox will carry the 2017 game and will air the contest in odd-numbered years through 2023. ESPN will handle the broadcast in even-numbered years, starting in 2018 and continuing through the 2024 season.

The Big 12’s existing television agreements expire at the conclusion of the 2024-25 school year.

After the Big 12 became a 10-member league for the 2011 football season, administrators scrapped the championship game because the conference no longer was divided into divisions and no longer included 12 teams. The final two championship games played under the league’s original 12-team configuration unfolded in Arlington, with Oklahoma defeating Nebraska, 23-20, to claim the 2010 title and Texas outlasting Nebraska, 13-12, in the 2009 title game.

In June, the decision was made to bring back the contest when research presented by independent analysts suggested the Big 12 would benefit in efforts to place a team in the annual College Football Playoff if it held a conference championship game in football. In the brief history of the CFP, the Big 12 failed to place a team in the four-team bracket when TCU and Baylor shared the 2014 title. Oklahoma received the No. 4 seed in last year’s playoff bracket when the Sooners won an outright league championship.

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch

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