In a derby that started out with 10 cities, the Champions Bowl is now dwindling down to five. The two front-runners are Arlington and New Orleans, but Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston are also in the running. While it does seem that Arlington and New Orleans will ultimately end up with the game in some capacity, the added competition is a plus for the SEC and Big 12. As Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported, San Antonio and Houston were the most recent additions to the ring.
Of the cities involved, San Antonio and Atlanta appear to be the clear long shots. San Antonio is the western-most city with a bid submitted, and Atlanta is the eastern-most location. Opposite ends of the same spectrum; San Antonio would wholly force the SEC out of its footprint, while Atlanta would move the Big 12 into the true Southeast and east of the Mississippi.
Houston is a different story. LSU already actively recruits in the Houston metro area. Alabama is dipping its hands into the area as well. Texas A&M has long made its presence felt in the area. The city of Houston would be an interesting play for both conferences, and while Arlington and New Orleans have rich traditions with the Sugar and Cotton Bowls, H-Town is a great city that can host a party.
Regardless of who wins the game or how the game is split between multiple locations, more competition is a good thing. Higher bids mean higher payouts. Higher payouts mean more money being funneled back into the conferences. Mike Slive, Bob Bowlsby and their constituents are going to get the best deal and help the continued solidification of the SEC and Big 12 at the top of the conference heap.
With the television rights already sold, the next big move is going to be the game's payout and sponsorships. That's where the bids come into play. For the sake of the conferences' cash coffers, may the highest bidder win.