OSU Buckeyes: Brad Traviolia
December, 7, 2012
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Scott BoehmChicago, a mecca for Big Ten alums of all stripes, is a worthy spot for the league's title game.
Indianapolis has almost everything a league like the Big Ten could want for its signature sporting event.
It boasts first-rate facilities for the game itself and for surrounding events like Big Ten Fan Fest. It boasts an excellent concentration of downtown hotels and restaurants. Indiana Sports Corporation has an unmatched track record of staging major sporting events, including the Super Bowl and the Final Four. The Big Ten picked Indianapolis to host its football championship game for these reasons and others. And from an event production standpoint, Indy has delivered.
But Indianapolis has two drawbacks.
1. There aren't overwhelming numbers of Big Ten fans who live there.
2. It isn't a true destination city.
In other words, Indianapolis isn't Chicago.
Some might say I'm picking on Indy after last Saturday's Big Ten championship game, which drew a crowd of only 41,260 to Lucas Oil Stadium, which can seat more than 67,000 for football games. Few anticipated a great crowd after a season in which the Big Ten had two of its best teams -- Ohio State and Penn State -- facing NCAA sanctions and barred from the title game or bowls. The fact that the title-game participants, Nebraska and Wisconsin, weren't in the national title race didn't help matters, either. Add in that Wisconsin finished third in the Leaders division with a 7-5 regular-season record, and the Big Ten title game had as much buzz as bingo night (yes, I know some of you love bingo).