The Big Ten meetings are quietly taking place in Chicago this week, and while there isn't a whole lot of news being made, there is at least one big story that should get the attention of Big Ten fans. As Adam Rittenberg writes on the ESPN.com Big Ten Blog, the conference will likely choose between Indianapolis and Chicago for championship game sites.
The two groups both made detailed presentations Tuesday before Big Ten athletic directors and other officials at the league's spring meetings. Although other cities and facilities have expressed interest in hosting future Big Ten football championship games -- Detroit, Cleveland, Green Bay -- the league is almost certainly going to go with Chicago/Hoffman Estates and/or Indianapolis.
A rotation of championship sites remains possible, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.
Indianapolis is bidding to host the football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium and both the men's and women's basketball tournaments at Conseco Fieldhouse. The other group would host the football championship at Soldier Field, the men's basketball tournament at the United Center and the women's hoops tournament at Sears Centre in suburban Hoffman Estates.
Both destinations have their pros and cons from a Penn State perspective.
Indianapolis is obviously desirable because of its proximity to elements of the Penn State fan base. It's approximately eight and a half hours from State College and six hours from Pittsburgh. It's also quite a hike for fans from prospective Leaders Division opponents Nebraska and Iowa, meaning Penn State could have quite a home field advantage if it were to meet one of those teams there.
Of course, the idea of playing at an indoor venue like Lucas Oil Stadium regularly is probably a turn off for a number of fans who believe outdoor football is part of the fabric of Penn State and Big Ten football. There isn't a single indoor venue in the Big Ten now that Minnesota has moved outdoors, so the idea of playing indoors seems odd at best.
Outdoor football is Chicago's biggest selling point. Look at that photo above. Imagine Penn State clashing with Nebraska, Iowa or Michigan in that. The setting would be classic with all the modern stadium amenities available. There's also a lot to do in Chicago, so fans could make a weekend out of visiting.
Unfortunately, Chicago is probably a plane ride away for most Penn State fans, even those as far west as Pittsburgh. You're almost talking about a second bowl trip here from a consumer's perspective, and though Penn State is known for "traveling well" it's hard to see large numbers of Nittany Lion fans embracing the idea of shelling out big bucks for a championship game and possible expensive BCS Bowl within a month of each other.
Neither site is a perfect fit for Penn State, so it might be nice to see a rotation in order for fans to experience the best of both. It would also be cool to see some of those other cities in the mix, too. Getting a chance to see Penn State play at Lambeau Field would be sublime given its history and tradition and invading a Buckeye city like Cleveland to play in a championship game against Michigan in place of Ohio State would likely be a fun experience.
For now, though, it looks like the competition is down to two. Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the destinations.