LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12 has agreed in principle to move its football championship game to Las Vegas when the Raiders‘ new NFL stadium opens in 2020 and remain there for at least two years, conference commissioner Larry Scott announced Wednesday.
Although the deal is not yet finalized, it is expected to be completed in the near future, Scott said.
“Our Pac-12 universities and entire conference are thrilled to have our 2020 and 2021 football championship event take place in one of the most anticipated new venues in sports,” Scott said in a statement. “Highlighting and showcasing our programs on one of the biggest stages in a major destination market is a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes, universities and fans, and consistent with our mission to create the best possible experiences for student-athletes.”
In the two-plus years since the Oakland Raiders announced they would move to Las Vegas, there has been speculation that the Pac-12 football championship game would follow. The conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are held in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas’ accessibility from a travel standpoint within the Pac-12 footprint, in addition to the new venue, made it a logical destination. The new NFL stadium in Los Angeles was also considered.
In 2020, the new stadium will host the Las Vegas Bowl, which pits a Pac-12 team against a Big Ten or SEC opponent.
The conference introduced the championship game in 2011 after it expanded to 12 teams and split into north and south divisions. For the first three seasons, the team with the best conference record hosted the title game. The title game then moved in 2014 to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Pac-12 also announced Wednesday a tie-in to the new Los Angeles Bowl beginning in 2020, which will see a conference team square off against a team from the Mountain West. The game will be played in the new stadium being built for the Rams and Chargers, with the Pac-12 committed to the game through 2025.