The 2022 College Football Playoff national championship will be in Indianapolis next January, leaving the host city’s planning team 12 more months to map out what the sport’s premier event will look like.
The plan includes concerts, a fan fest at the Indiana Convention Center and, of course, the game, which is scheduled for Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lingering in the background of talk about any major sporting event in the near future is how the COVID-19 pandemic might force changes.
The 2020 college football season just concluded with a 52-24 Alabama win over Ohio State in the national championship in Miami Gardens, Florida, in front of a crowd limited to about 14,900 fans who stood in a stadium that also serves as a COVID-19 vaccine site.
The Indianapolis host committee is hopeful that a full year, along with vaccinations, will make the 2022 title game as close to normal as possible, but members also know it would be a mistake to count out a pandemic. Everyone was still masked and socially distanced, after all, when the committee participated in a virtual “handoff” event from the Miami host committee at Lucas Oil Stadium on Jan. 12, and a worker sanitized a microphone between each speaker.
“I think it has to be in our mind, having lived through the last year,” committee President Susan Baughman said, adding that the committee will plan for a “100%” event but be ready to scale back.
Under normal circumstances, members of the next year’s host committee would get to travel to the current site of the national championship to learn the ins and outs of hosting a weekend-long event that encompasses more than a football game. That didn’t happen this year, but the Indianapolis committee has already had that experience the previous three years in New Orleans, Atlanta and Santa Clara, California.
Mark Howell, chair of the Indianapolis host committee, said the committee is “really comfortable” with the process because of those three years and what they learned from the College Football Playoff staff in Miami.
Howell said the committee will also pay attention to other sporting events in Indianapolis — from March Madness in a couple months to the Indianapolis 500 and Colts games next season.
“Our team will learn from every event between now and next January,” he said.
If all goes according to plan, the committee expects an economic impact of about $150 million in Central Indiana with more than 100,000 fans. The committee will also depend on 1,500 to 2,000 volunteers. Learn more about how to volunteer at indyfootball2022.com.
More than football
Through College Football Playoff Foundation, the Indianapolis host committee has committed $1 million to programs in partnership with The Mind Trust, a local education nonprofit.
Financial support will go to the Indiana eLearning Lab and Teach Indy.
The learning lab is a virtual hub for educators in Indiana to access teaching content, best practices for e-learning and professional growth. Parents and anyone else administering e-learning is also encouraged to visit the learning lab for resources.
Teach Indy is a partnership between The Mind Trust, the mayor’s Office of Education Innovation and Indianapolis Public Schools to recruit, develop and retain teachers.
The committee also announced funding for media center makeovers at four schools: Southport Middle School (Perry Township), Garden City Elementary (Wayne Township), James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy (Lawrence Township) and Victory College Prep (Center Township).
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.