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Sugar Bowl headed to either Baton Rouge or ATL

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  • Sugar Bowl headed to either Baton Rouge or ATL

    Sugar Bowl decision between Atlanta, Baton Rouge news services

    Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan said Tuesday that his organization will make every effort to hold the game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

    However, if the hurdles regarding infrastructure prove too high, the game will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. No decision will be made until the first week of October.

    Hoolahan met with the 11 Division I-A commissioners Tuesday in Chicago.

    "We are exploring the options of two venues," Hoolahan said. "The parallel track is absolutely the only way to go."

    Sugar Bowl officials will be anxiously watching the progress of restoring the Superdome, something that is expected to take at least a year.

    "Obviously, this will not be a normal New Orleans Sugar Bowl experience," Hoolahan said earlier this month. "But I think everyone will take a little disruption, maybe more than a little disruption, to get this done.

    "Our preference is to play the game in Louisiana, because the Sugar Bowl is a Louisiana event," Hoolahan said earlier this month. "But we are pursuing a parallel track to ensure that there is a Sugar Bowl this year."

    Hoolahan said Tuesday that if the Superdome in New Orleans is rebuildable, he'd like to keep the game there, although a new facility in the city would be ideal.

    The new BCS contract cycle begins in 2006. The Sugar Bowl is scheduled to play host not only to the national championship game after the 2007 season but the "regular" Sugar Bowl under the double-hosting format that starts next season.

    Hoolahan said playing the game anywhere but New Orleans would be difficult beyond 2006. That could mean the BCS awarding the Sugar Bowl spot in the championship rotation to another bowl.

    Bowl officials hope the state will make a quick commitment to restore the Superdome and that work will begin soon.

    The Sugar Bowl game on Jan. 2 will match the SEC champion -- provided that team is not playing for the BCS championship in the Rose Bowl -- and an at-large team.

    Neither Hoolahan nor LSU athletic director Skip Bertman see any problem with playing the game at Tiger Stadium. The problem is hotel space. Sugar Bowl fans normally occupy up to 30,000 hotel rooms in New Orleans, something the Baton Rouge area couldn't approach even if every available room weren't being used by those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

    Many of the major hotels in New Orleans hope to complete repairs and be ready for business soon.

    Information from's Ivan Maisel, ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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