Work already underway to bring National Championship game back to Tampa

The next opening is 2021
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 17:31:53-05

Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney is headed out of town with the big prize.

He held a final press conference sitting next to the championship trophy Monday morning. While thousands of fan are leaving town with great reviews of their time in Tampa Bay.

“I felt like everything was really smooth, from the fan central, just being by the water, being a beautiful city."

“We spent literally three years preparing for this thing. “We’ve had a really great weekend. Happy to be here for sure,” said Clemson fan Ashley Benson-Jaja.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city spent around a million dollars in services provided for the weekend, but he said it’s well worth it.

“There’s an investment that we make, but I think it comes back to us ten-fold,” said Buckhorn.

That’s why he and other leaders are already talking about getting the college National Championship back.

The next opening is 2021.

“We don’t want to get these events one time. We want to keep getting them back and building long term relationships,” said Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins.

Atlanta has the National Championship game next year and their mayor says his city needs to follow Tampa’s lead.

“Your public safety officials and your entire community could not have done a better job in setting the bar for the game in 2018, and I think the people of Tampa deserve a round of applause,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The sports commission isn’t saying what else they hope to bring here in the near future.

Next on the schedule is the 2019 Women’s Final Four returning to Amalie Arena.

Tampa has lost out in recent tries to get the Super Bowl for a 5th time, but upgrades to Raymond James Stadium should help.

“I think what we saw this weekend, and what college football saw, and I know the Super Bowl folks were watching, was a city that knows how to put these events on,” said Buckhorn.

Buckhorn said the only major event Tampa hasn’t hosted yet is the Olympics. But he’s not so sure a city of this size could handle that.

Not everything was perfect Monday night. The record breaking crowd caused back-ups at some stadium entrances. 

The Tampa Sports Authority said they were aware of some perimeter security gate congestion, but dealt with it promptly. They said it was caused by a large amount of fans coming in at the same time after two large tent parties let out at the same time as the Dierks Bentley concert.