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Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017
Local News

College Football Playoff: Tampa sets sights on 2021 title game and beyond

TAMPA — As Mayor Bob Buckhorn left the Tampa Convention Center on Tuesday, he left a parting message with College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock.

"Let's do it again some time."

Local organizers were already at work on that Tuesday, less than 12 hours after the confetti fell at Raymond James Stadium.

The next sites are set through January 2020, but the Tampa Bay Sports Commission plans to bid on the next round — and pretty much every one after that, executive director Rob Higgins said.

"It was a remarkable experience for us," Higgins said. "We feel like the event fits really well here, and we're going to stop at nothing to try to get it back."

The CFP touted record fan attendance at virtually every ancillary event, like the fan experience at the convention center and concerts at Curtis Hixon Park. The game drew a stadium-record crowd of 74,512. ESPN's overnight TV ratings fell slightly from last year and landed a 15.3 overnight rating.

Organizers, including officials from next year's site in Atlanta, raved about the event's success and a walkable downtown. Hancock said everything "went really, really well."

The CFP plans to award its next round of sites — probably about three — next spring. While the first six sites were all in different states, Hancock said that will likely have to change when the next few are awarded. Expect Tampa Bay to be in the mix.

"We still want to take the event to as many different places as we can," Hancock said. "But Tampa shouldn't read anything into that."

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.