Arlington 'virtual lock' to host game

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is a "virtual lock" to host the first championship game in college football's new four-team playoff, sources said.

Wednesday was the deadline to submit bids to host the championship on Jan. 12, 2015, and only the North Texas and Tampa Bay, Fla., communities submitted bids, sources said.

The BCS commissioners will meet April 23-25 in Pasadena, Calif., to officially announce the first championship site and other details about the upcoming playoff.

In January, sources told ESPN that Cowboys Stadium was the "prohibitive favorite" to host the game. Because Cowboys Stadium, which hosts the AT&T Cotton Bowl, is such an overwhelming favorite for the inaugural championship, several communities opted not to bid, sources said.

"It's pretty clear to everyone that it's headed to Cowboys Stadium," an industry source said.

Still, Tampa Bay, which has hosted four Super Bowls and the men's and women's Final Four, bid for the game. This could make a favorable impression and help its chances in landing a future championship game, sources said.

The upcoming 2013 season is the final year of the BCS before college football adopts a new four-team playoff after the 2014 regular season. The Jan. 1, 2015, semifinals will be held at the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio in Pasadena, Calif., and the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

To bid for the inaugural championship game, stadiums had to meet a minimum 65,000-seat requirement. Also cities could not host a semifinal game and the championship in the same year.

Besides expecting to land college football's new title game, Cowboys Stadium also will host the NCAA's men's Final Four nine months earlier, on April 5 and 7, 2014.

It's anticipated that this summer, the yet-to-be-named playoff is expected to start accepting bids for the Jan. 11, 2016, and Jan. 9, 2017, championship games, sources said.