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GHSA moves football championship games to Georgia State
GHSA Football
The Georgia High School Association decided Tuesday to shift the venue of its state football championship games from Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium to Georgia State Stadium, formerly known as Turner Field, the past home of the Atlanta Braves. -photo by Matthew Grimes

ATLANTA — It’s official. Georgia State’s home football stadium, the old Turner Field and former home of the Atlanta Braves, will become the new home of the Georgia High School Association state football championships. 

According to a Tuesday press release that appears on the GHSA’s website, the state’s governing body for high school athletics made the decision to host all eight state championship games, sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance, at Georgia State Stadium. 

Those games will take place on Friday and Saturday December 13-14, 2019. 

GHSA Executive director Dr. Robin Hines expressed his pleasure about the move which comes about a week after sharing concerns about the Mercedes Benz Stadium’s $600,000 price tag to keep the championship games at the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United’s current home. 

“We are excited to announce that the GHSA/Tommy Guillebeau Football State Championships will be held Georgia State Stadium,” Hines said. “(Georgia State athletic director) Charlie Cobb at Georgia State University has been tremendously supportive in planning with the GHSA an event that will provide a first class experience for our student athletes and benefit our participating schools. We look forward to our partnership with Georgia State University.” 

Mercedes Benz Stadium had been the planned host of the games for the last two football season, not without multiple problems, however. 

In 2017, six of the eight state championship games were canceled due to heavy snow that blanketed the downtown Atlanta area. The weather moved those games to local high school stadiums — a move that was met with mixed reviews from fans, coaches, players and school officials alike.

Last year, total attendance took a major dip as conflicts with Atlanta United soccer caused the games to be pushed into the middle of the week instead of the typical weekend times. 

There will be a decrease in stadium capacity, as Georgia State’s 24,333 seats greatly dwarfs the 71,000 capacity of Mercedes Bens. But the smaller stadium should provide a fuller look and perhaps a better game atmosphere. Two-day game attendances have hovered around the 45,000 mark over the last several years. 

Details regarding costs to play the games at Georgia State Stadium were not immediately provided, but Cobb promised the best for the 16 teams and their fan bases for the 2019 games. 

“Georgia State is honored to host the eight GHSA state championships this December,” Cobb said. “It’s exciting for us to know that the culminating point for high school football throughout the state is Georgia State Stadium. Our staff will showcase a first-class experience for the players, coaches and fans of the participating teams.”