Championship Weekend: Know Your Traditions

Levi’s® Stadium is in its fifth season, as is the College Football Playoff (CFP). While that may not be enough time to grow cobwebs, testifying to the strength appeal of the sport of football, the national championship game has already developed a remarkable number of traditions, some of which will add to Levi’s® Stadium’s own historic patina in years to come.


The Bay Area will be witness to it all in early January.  Among those traditions:

  • Playoff Fan Central, a three-day interactive festival, is always held at the host city’s convention center with family-oriented exhibits and activities. This year, it will be staged at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center from Friday, January 4 – Sunday, January 6.
  • Marching bands are everywhere during CFP National Championship weekend. Actually, there are only two of them, from the two competing schools. But the band members stay very busy. After Sunday practice sessions, usually at local high schools, they perform at Playoff Fan Central the day before the game and often make a guest appearance on the AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! stage. On game day, the bands then visit alumni tailgate gatherings before finally entering the stadium for the usual pregame and halftime shows. 
  • The game is always played on a neutral field in a stadium with a minimum capacity of 65,000 seats. Team photos are taken one day before kickoff at the stadium, becoming treasured keepsakes for the participants.
  • At all four of the previous CFP National Championships, the pregame ceremonies have included a parade of banners with all the Football Bowl Subdivision schools represented. At the 2019 game, that means 130 banners will be on the field before the kickoff.
  • A running road race, the Extra Yard 5K, is held the day before the game in the host area with proceeds benefitting Extra Yard for Teachers, the College Football Playoff Foundation’s philanthropic initiative that supports educators around the country. This year’s race will be staged in downtown San Jose on Sunday, January 6.
  • The AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! concert series has been part of CFP National Championship weekend since year one. All the shows will be free and take place at Discovery Meadow just down the street from the San Jose McEnery Convention Center from Friday, January 4 – Sunday, January 6.
  • As part of the CFP National Championship weekend celebration, the Eckrich® “Taste of the Championship” party takes place the night before the game (Sunday, January 6) with gourmet food and beverages from local restaurants, with proceeds supporting the Extra Yard For Teachers program. This time, the fundraiser will be held at The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose.
  • Before kickoff, as part of the same initiative, Teachers of the Year from each state are introduced to take a bow before the capacity crowd. Receiving an ovation from tens of thousands of people invariably invokes an emotional response by the teachers – and in turn by the audience.
  • Championship Tailgate, a pregame tailgate area of 15 to 20 acres that basically becomes a college football county fair, with food and drink and entertainment from the parking lot outside of Levi’s® Stadium.
  • An emotional “Path to the Championship” video with highlights of the college football season is shown at the stadium – and on telecasts – as part of the pregame buildup.
  • In another dramatic moment, marching bands from the two schools perform the National Anthem together, with one percussionist from each school stepping dramatically out to front for the beginning drum roll that kicks off the song.
  • A Twitter explosion! The 2018 national championship game was the No. 3 social media event of the year, as measured by the metrics experts.
  • The ESPN Megacast of the CFP National Championship blankets the network’s multiple channels, creating 10 different ways to watch the game, including a variety of content including enhanced statistics, dedicated high-angle views or commentary in different languages.
  • The confetti shower at the postgame trophy ceremony features custom confetti that is shaped like footballs.
  • As they leave the stadium, all fans of the winning team always shake hands with fans of the losing team and congratulate them on a great season. All right, so that isn’t a requirement. And it isn’t totally the case, but wouldn’t it be a good CFP tradition to begin here in the Bay Area?