After two seasons of having its initial plans at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium hampered by weather and soccer, the Georgia High School Association is taking it's football down the road a couple of miles.
On Tuesday, the organization announced that it would be moving its eight championship football games to Georgia State Stadium.
“We are excited to announce that the GHSA Football State Championships will be held at Georgia State Stadium,” GHSA executive director Robin Hines said in a release. “(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.”
The games will be played on Friday and Saturday Dec. 13-14.
"It is probably disappointing, especially to the fan bases that are consistent participants," Mount Paran Christian coach and athletic director Mitch Jordan said, "but Georgia State has a great facility."
Georgia State Stadium is the transformed Turner Field. The facility was taken over by the university after the Atlanta Braves opened SunTrust Park, and it was retrofitted for the Panthers' football team, which previously played in the Georgia Dome.
The stadium also served as home field for the Atlanta Legends of the short-lived Alliance of American Football.
"It's hard to believe what Georgia State has been able to do with it," Jordan said. "The one drawback is you do have to worry about the elements. It may make it hard for the coaches and fans who want to go and watch multiple games."
The price tag to play the state championship games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium had gotten too big. The last two seasons, the GHSA paid nearly $600,000 to hold the title games there. It was almost a $300,000 increase from when the games were held in the Georgia Dome from 2008-16.
There was also a conflict at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year when the state title games, originally set for the weekend, were rescheduled to mid-week after the Atlanta United soccer team hosted the MLS Cup championship game.
It was at the Georgia Dome where Mount Paran ended Cobb County's nearly 50-year wait for a football state championship in 2014, when it beat Eagle's Landing Christian for the Class A title. The following year, Allatoona beat Glynn Academy for the Class AAAAA title.
"Playing for a state championship and playing in that venue was great," Jordan said. "It was a special moment for our team, the community and the fans.
"Georgia State is different, but it will still be a great place to play."