After negotiations about how to manage Barron Stadium hosting the Corky Kell Classic stalled, the event pulled out of Rome this year.
“We expressed our concerns (Friday) and they decided to move to a different location with different teams,” Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars said.
The city school system manages the event and Byars said they were having trouble figuring out how to follow health recommendations for holding the event at one location.
“Since we’re the manager of the stadium it would be our responsibility to manage the event,” Byars said.
For instance, Byars said the recommendations called for sanitizing the entire stadium between games — something he felt wasn’t plausible. Ticket holders purchase a ticket for the entire two game event and getting everyone out of the stadium and then back in, or even switching fans from one side to another wasn’t going to work.
“There were a lot of logistical issues but it really came down to keeping people safe,” Byars said. “Mercedes-Benz (Stadium) said they can’t do it. If Mercedes-Benz can’t do it, how can we?”
Rome High head coach John Reid said in a phone interview after research, discussion with local medical professionals and rising numbers of COVID cases in the area counties, a doubleheader was not feasible.
“We thought, under the right circumstances with masks, hand sanitizer and all that, we could pull off a single game and the Corky Kell people just didn’t think that was a good idea,” Reid said. “They wanted to stay with the doubleheader.”
The Gwinnett Daily Post reported that the five games originally planned to play at the stadium were shifted to Mill Creek High School.
The stadium which hosts the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United is required to use NFL guidelines for operation and sanitizing, the Post reported. The process was deemed too expensive by Corky Kell organizers who already pay a large sum to rent the stadium.
Rome, along with Carrollton, Cedartown and Rockmart were scheduled to play at the event, which usually kicks off high school football season in Georgia.
Rome was originally scheduled to play Cartersville in the Corky Kell Classic, then play Rockmart, but after Cartersville backed out, Rockmart filled the spot.
“We hate it, I really do. I don’t want it to have a negative impact on the city,” Byars said. “But it’s really a health issue.”
As of this writing, Rome is scheduled to kick off its season versus Rockmart on Friday, Sept. 4, at Barron Stadium.