It should be a thrilling race for the Pac-12 football title this fall. In a conference with so many contenders, only one thing's for sure: The game will be played at Levi Stadium.
The Sacramento Bee and ESPN are among the multiple media outlets reporting that the Pac-12 football championship will be played at the San Francisco 49ers' newly constructed stadium in Santa Clara, Calif, a rumor finally coming to fruition. Pac-12 officials are scheduled to announce 11 a.m. MT Thursday that Levi Stadium is the new permanent home of the title game, which will be played on Dec. 5 this year.
Until the time of the announcement, the Pac-12 has been the only conference of the so-called "Power Five" not to have a permanent site for its conference championship. Since 2011, the conference has favored a home game for the team with the better record: Oregon in 2011, Stanford in 2012, and Arizona State in 2013. While the middle game had so-so turnout affected by weather, both the 2011 and 2013 games were well-attended.
But money is money, and the Pac-12 may stand to gain from having event tickets sold year round and having logistics in place rather than forcing a school to scramble the week of the game.
While surely Kyle Whittingham would rather make that trade-off to have a challenger come face the MUSS, the MUSS will have to get on a plane if the Utes make the championship game for the forseeable future.
More details will be available Thursday after the announcement, which will stream live on Pac-12 Network from Levi Stadium.
The 69,000-seat Levi Stadium is scheduled to host its first game on Aug. 2, an MLS match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders. The 49ers kick off on Aug. 17. A regular season Pac-12 game between Cal and Oregon will take place on Oct. 24, and it seems only a matter of time before other teams claim that's an unfair advantage.