12-20-2012 08:49 AM

The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game will make its home in Frisco for three more years, Damani Leech, NCAA director of championships and alliances, revealed. This season’s game, which will take place in the city for the third consecutive year will remain in Frisco until 2016.
Three factors were considered when deciding whether or not to come back to Frisco, Leech said: the atmosphere of the event, the quality of the facility and the experience of the student-athletes participating in the game.
“The city of Frisco and Team Frisco have delivered in spades on all three regards,” Leech said. “For that reason, it gives me great pleasure to announce we’ll be coming back here for the championship game for three more years – through the year 2016.”
After the announcement, Leech said the decision to keep the game in Frisco was an easy decision given the partnership the NCAA’s had with the city and organizing committee.
“As we evaluated our criteria on whether to bid [the game] out or renegotiate with Frisco, we decided we really want to stay here,” he said. “The stadium, for one, is absolutely fantastic. Everything from the quality of the field to the stadium’s size – which is really appropriate for our game – is great. The community is also big reason we’re bringing the game back, too.”
Prior to coming to Frisco in 2011, the FCS title game had spent the previous 13 years in Chattanooga, Tenn. Leech said the majority of FCS programs are based in the eastern United States, which was the only concern the NCAA had about moving the game to Frisco.
When the NCAA changed the layoff from the semifinals to the finals from one week to three weeks, however, the decision to move the game to Frisco was an easy one, Leech said.
“Once that structure was changed, we knew it was plenty of time for fans to schedule their travel arrangements,” he said.
This year’s game is projected to have an economic impact of more than $5.9 million on the region, the city announced.
Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said the city’s wanted to make the game a long-term arrangement with the NCAA since it first agreed to a deal with the organization four years ago.
“After we signed the first agreement, we started talking about what was next,” he said. “Every step leading to this announcement has been very positive, and the NCAA has been a great partner. The negotiations never ended, and they won’t end now – we want this to be the home of the [title game] for a very, very long time.”
While the game’s return to Frisco is being celebrated by city officials, Maso said the NCAA’s decision will benefit more than just Frisco.
“I want to really stress that this is not just about Frisco – it’s a regional thing. If you ask our neighboring cities like Plano, they’ll tell you their hotels are full, too,” he said. “We view this as a regional win; everyone benefits from it. This game means a lot to the Frisco community and our region.”
The city of Frisco is hosting the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game in coordination with the Southland Conference and Hunt Sports Group.
The game, which is scheduled to kick off at noon on Jan. 5, will take place at FC Dallas Stadium and features Huntsville-based Sam Houston State taking on North Dakota State in a rematch of last year’s title game. ESPN2 will televise the game.
A consultant hired by event organizers estimated that the game brought in about $4 million for local businesses two years ago, the game’s first year in the city, and $5.8 million last year.
Marla Roe, executive director of the Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this year’s game will likely have a similar or slightly larger economic impact compared to last year’s.
“The event’s grown each year, and it doesn’t only impact Frisco – it also impacts neighboring cities,” she said. “Hotels are already sold out for the most part; there’s a pretty limited availability left.”
The fact that a Texas team is playing in the game again could be of benefit for local businesses, Roe said, as it will garner support from the local community.
This year’s game is expected to draw a record crowd for a football game at FC Dallas Stadium. Last year’s championship game set the current record with an attendance of 20,586.
“We’re adding additional bleachers for the bands, which will open up more seats, and we’ll also potentially be selling standing-room-only tickets,” said Nick Shafer, vice president of stadium operations at FC Dallas Stadium. “We’re expecting at least the same amount of fans as last year.”
Shafer added that the NCAA is in charge of ticket sales, although he noted seats for the game have already been sold out. A limited number of standing room only tickets for the game will go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, however.
Tony Felker, president and chief executive of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, said the past two years have shown fans are willing to spend time in the city, which helps local businesses.
“One of the main goals when we brought this game to Frisco was the opportunity to provide an event where people would be coming in multiple days from out of town,” he said. “Having folks in here from out of town for two, three, four days is a huge economic boon for local businesses.”
While a wide range of businesses benefit from the game, the companies impacted the most are retail and travel-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, local stores and car rental companies.
Despite being the last year of the current deal between the NCAA and Team Frisco, the event’s organizing committee, there’s a strong probability the event will be returning to the city.
“It’s not a secret that we’ve been working with the NCAA to hopefully extend this game here for numerous years to come – we’re hoping to finalize this in the near future,” Felker said. “We’re happy with the positive reviews we’ve gotten the past year years, and we love the fact that teams are buying tickets well in advance to come to the city. It’s definitely growing each year.”
By Anthony Tosie, Star Local News