Back-up plan in place for title games
GHSA makes move to ensure games at MB Stadium
The Georgia High School Association has made a move to ensure that all of the football state championship games this season can be played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium — no matter the situation.
Scheduled for Dec. 7-8 at the year-old, multi-million dollar facility, the championship games are the highlight of the Georgia high school football season and normally broadcast on Georgia Public Television.
However, in order to avoid a possible conflict with Atlanta’s Major League Soccer team — Atlanta United — hosting the MLS Cup finals on Dec. 8 on their home field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the GHSA has reserved Dec. 11-12 — the following Tuesday and Wednesday — as back-up dates.
GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines told the group’s board of trustees about the secondary dates during its meeting last week, citing the soccer club’s chance at hosting the championship as a reason. But GHSA President Glenn White said the back-up dates can be used for other instances as well.
“From what I understand, it’s for any situation where we can’t play the games on the original dates, including what we had last year,” White said.
Rome High fans, coaches and players remember well the state of frustration that occurred last December when inclement weather, including snow and ice, hit North Georgia on the morning the Wolves were set to play Warner Robins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Class 5A state championship.
The GHSA made a decision during the Class AAA game between Calhoun and Peach County — after the Rome and Warner Robins teams had arrived at the stadium — to postpone the games scheduled for the rest of the day and, ultimately, the next day as well. That led to six of the eight title games being played at six separate locations the following weekend.
Rome went to Warner Robins’ McConnell- Talbert Stadium, where the Wolves blanked the Demons 38-0 for their second state championship in a row.
White, who lives in Rome, said he was recently given some more information about the original day of the state championships, saying that he was told ice had accumulated on the roof of the stadium and was falling near the ticket booth, causing a safety concern for the GHSA as fans were still arriving for the two afternoon games.
With a plan already in place to reschedule the championships at the neutral-site stadium, regardless of the reason, White hopes they can avoid the scenario that played out last year.
“That’s what we’re trying to head off,” White said, adding that providing a way for GPB to televise all of the games is another incentive for making sure they are played at one location.
“We’ve got to do everything we can for the kids and schools to get all of the publicity they can,” White said. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing for these teams and schools, and we want to make it as special as possible.”
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to host the GHSA State Football Championship Games Dec. 7-8, but the GHSA has reserved Dec. 11-12 as well if circumstances arise to prevent play on the first date.