The bid has been sent to and received by the NCAA offices in Indianapolis.

Now all members of the MOCSE - the recently created Missoula Organizing Committee Special Events - and the University of Montana can do is wait and see if Missoula can compete to host the Division I Football Championship.

"We know the NCAA received our bid document today, and today was the deadline," Gary Hughes, chair for the MOCSE, said Tuesday. "We know they have it, and they'll let us know in like a month - mid-November - if Missoula is a finalist for host city."

Hughes said it was roughly a three-week process for MOCSE, which was created on Sept. 11, to come up with the 110-page document sent off to the NCAA.

The bid includes government guarantees, which are basically statements from the local, state and county officials that the event would be welcomed to this corner of the state. It also presumably has the private financial backing necessary to bring the 2010 championship game, which will actually be played in January of 2011.

Earlier reports had Missoula's business community needing to raise as much as $300,000 to be competitive in the bid process, and that a financial institution would have to underwrite three-quarters of that amount.

"I can say that a local bank issued a letter of credit that had to be an original document," said Hughes. "The guarantee is there."

Hughes said that facility upgrades, notably in the locker rooms, that would make the University of Montana a more viable host were not addressed in the bid. What it does address is the business community's position of strength.

"I think we have a strong, strong bid," said Hughes, pointing to hotel space to accommodate the NCAA's event headquarters, the officials from the participating universities and their fans.

That alone puts Missoula at least on par with Chattanooga, Tenn., which has hosted the game since 1997, said Hughes.

"Obviously they've been able to put on a championship or they wouldn't have done it (12) years in a row," he added. "But we were able to show we are ready and capable of holding the event."

January isn't likely to make it warm inside Montana's open-air Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and Hughes counts that among a couple weaknesses to the bid.

"But I can remember two national championship games in Chattanooga," he added. "The one where it poured on us for four hours (in a 2000 loss to Georgia Southern) and you remember the turf fiasco."

Finley Stadium was freshly resodded ahead of the 2004 title game, and the turf came apart in James Madison's 31-21 win over the Griz. There was talk of moving the game at that point to such sites as San Antonio and Las Vegas, but Chattanooga, which installed artificial turf in Finley Stadium, was able to keep the game.

In earlier years the championship took place in Huntington, W. Va., from 1992-96., and in Statesboro, Ga., the three previous years. The game was in Tacoma, Wash., from 1985-86 and Pocatello, Idaho, hosted in 1987-88.

Chattanooga is in the running again, as is Spokane, Wash. It's not known how many other cities bid to host the game, but most will be hard-pressed to match the fan base in Missoula and Montana.

"One of our pluses is going to be our season ticket base," said Hughes. "The NCCA is going to look at our 19,000 season-ticket holders and be encouraged.

"Missoula is just a huge, huge asset."

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at fneighbor@missoulian.com.

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