Striking Lucas Oil

Published 1:32 am Friday, August 6, 2010

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Big Ten Conference has chosen Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis as the site for its first football championship game in 2011.

The Big Ten announced Thursday that the conference and the Indiana Sports Corp. will spend the next 30 days working out details of the one-year deal. After that, the Big Ten will conduct thorough research to determine future locations.

John Dedman, spokesman for the Indiana Sports Corp., said the Big Ten approached Indianapolis to host the event, and there was no formal bidding process.

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“It’s fantastic for us that the Big Ten has confidence in Indianapolis and the Sports Corp. to host the Big Ten championship game,” Dedman said. “It’s a city that’s built for events.”

The Big Ten said Indianapolis has been an outstanding host for its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in recent years. Lucas Oil Stadium is slated to host the Super Bowl in 2012, just months after the inaugural Big Ten football title game.

“We are excited to work with Indiana Sports Corp. and Lucas Oil Stadium to finalize an agreement to hold the inaugural Big Ten football championship game in the city of Indianapolis,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “We felt at this time it was important to identify a site for the first championship game and then spend more time with other cities and venues with respect to both our basketball tournaments and the football championship games in the future.”

Nebraska will join the conference in 2011, giving the conference 12 teams, the amount required by the NCAA to hold a championship game. The Lincoln, Neb., campus will be the farthest conference school from Indy, about 640 miles away.

Purdue, about 65 miles away, would have one of the shortest drives in the conference.

“Lucas Oil Stadium is a state-of-the-art facility centrally located in the heart of Big Ten country,” Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said. “It is a proven entity in the athletics world. The facility is a tremendous place to host the initial Big Ten football championship game and will help promote and gain positive exposure for the event.”

Indiana coach Bill Lynch hopes Indianapolis becomes the permanent host.

“As a lifelong Indiana native, I know Indianapolis will show its Hoosier hospitality and hopefully will get the opportunity to host this game on a yearly basis,” he said.