The Florida State Seminoles are in preliminary talks to play neutral-site football games in Orlando in 2016 and Atlanta in 2018, David Hale of ESPN has reported.
According to Hale, no discussion of opponents for either game has taken place.
The two neutral-site game possibilities came to light in a Q&A with FSU athletic director Stan Wilcox. Here is the section on football scheduling:
Hale: One of the big knocks on FSU last season was its strength of schedule. That’s come even more to the forefront as college football’s playoff system begins in 2014, and it’s a topic the ACC is debating, too. What’s the discussions regarding conference scheduling, and where does Florida State stand in the debate?
Wilcox: We’re still in conversations with that, but what I would say is that as a league, we’re trying to do what’s best to position the league so that we can get teams into the playoff. If you can get more than one — like this year, we got more than one team in the BCS — that’s even better. There are conferences that have already decided how they think they’re going to do that. They’re going to nine games. We’re contemplating and discussing what’s going to be the best way, just like the SEC is doing. Each league is considering how best to position the conference from a scheduling perspective without compromising the regular season and the rivalries that have been established. You also want to make sure you have the right inventory you can sell to networks and sell to create channels. And from the ACC perspective, nothing has been decided yet.
From [Florida State’s] perspective, we’re at the point now that we would like to continue to be able to have as many quality home games as we can, potentially take one of those games on the road — this year, we’re going to Dallas, and we’re looking at Orlando and other cities.* Some of that can be jeopardized depending how the conference ends up. If we had our druthers, we’d like to just keep everything the way they are right now. But I can’t say that’s what’s going to happen.
[*Ed. note: FSU confirms it is in preliminary talks for a neutral-site game in Orlando in 2016 and Atlanta in 2018.]
Florida State currently only has two non-conference games scheduled in 2016 (at USF, vs. Florida) and one in 2018 (vs. Florida). It’s no coincidence that the Seminoles would prefer to play a neutral-site game in years that they host the rival Gators in Tallahassee.
If the ACC moves to a nine-game schedule prior to 2016, then the ‘Noles would have only one opening in 2016 and two in 2018.
So who could the Seminoles play? One or both of the games is likely to be against a team from the SEC, and the first team that comes to mind is Georgia.
Last May, then FSU athletic director Randy Spetman mentioned that he was talking with Georgia about playing in 2016. At that time, he said that talks between the two schools were “moving along” and that the game would be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
UGA athletic director Greg McGarity likely held up those conversations because he’s waiting on his own conference to hash out their future football scheduling format.
If the dates and locations hold true, FSU will play in the renovated Citrus Bowl and the new Atlanta stadium. The Citrus Bowl in Orlando is currently undergoing a huge renovation project and is expected to be completed by November of this year.
Atlanta’s new retractable-roof football stadium, which will replace the Georgia Dome, is expected to open in time for the 2017 football season.