OHSAA needs to bring state football back to ColumbusWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
At its monthly meeting two weeks ago, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) decided to keep many on pins and needles, when they delayed deciding on where the home for the 2012-2014 state football championship games will be held.
It might be hard for some to imagine, a decision as small as to where six state championship games will be held, keeping so many on the edge of their seats. But in many ways something resembling a heavy weight fight has been unfolding behind the scenes between two sites.
In one corner is the city of Columbus, with Stark County in corner two. Both have been vying to be the sites for all six OHSAA’s state high school football championship games.
Both sites have hosted the games before, and truthfully both make a compelling argument as to why they should host the games, which generate anywhere from $3-$5 million dollars in revenue for the local economy.
Stark County has hosted the games since 1989, moving the games to Northeast Ohio from Columbus. The OHSAA board has been very pleased with the job that Stark County has done hosting the games.
The community is filled with high school football history. Besides having two of the most storied high school football programs in the history of Ohio high school football (Canton McKinley and Massillon Washington), the area is also home to two of the premier facilities in all of high school athletics.
Massillon boasts the 16,600 seat Paul Brown Tiger stadium (yes, that Paul Brown), which also has an indoor football facility and a two story locker room that were just recently built.
Canton has Fawcett Stadium, which can hold 22,375 fans. The stadium is most notable for hosting the annual NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Game at the beginning of every NFL exhibition season.
Between the two, it is easy to see why OHSAA would have a hard time moving its games for its current host stadiums.
But Columbus has been on the attack, especially since Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel decided to help spearhead the city’s effort. With 105,000 seat Ohio Stadium in their back pocket, Columbus has pulled out all the stops in an effort to woo OHSAA back to the campus of Ohio State.
It has been no secret though that Columbus would like to have to the football championship games back in the state’s capital city and with no disrespect to Stark County, the games belong in Columbus.
Many of us have made the trek down US 23 and have experienced many of the amenities that Columbus has to offer.
The city already plays host to so many other events, and the city’s sport commission has experience putting on some higher profile sporting events. With hosting NCAA basketball tournament games, a major golf tournament, and three professional sports teams in town, it is clear that the city would be well equipped to host the football games.
Columbus certainly has the best amenities to offer potential competing schools, and the city would allow the high school athletic association an opportunity to make the events about more than just football.
The city’s central location has its advantages too, allowing teams to have a similar driving trek for all schools in the state.
But the other bonus that comes with Columbus is the stadium where it will be played. For many, Ohio Stadium represents hallowed football grounds. What football player hasn’t dreamed of running out of the tunnel at the great Horseshoe?
The same cannot be said for Paul Brown Tiger Stadium and Canton Fawcett Stadium.
Columbus’s bid represents a chance to elevate the prestige that goes along with playing in a high school state championship. That’s why Ohio’s basketball, hockey, baseball, and many other tournaments are played there.
After two decades away, it’s time for OHSAA to do the right thing and bring the state football games back to Columbus. It’s time to take the state championship back to Ohio Stadium.
It’s time to turn the state championship games into what they should be – the best football teams in Ohio, battling for the division titles on the biggest state possible stage. The teams have earned their time to shine.