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Saturday July 20th, 2019 3:48AM

GHSA football finals moving to Georgia State Stadium

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

The Georgia High School football championships will be played at Georgia State Stadium, the GHSA announced Tuesday.

The former home of the Atlanta Braves will be the third neutral site to host the high school football finals since 2008 — Georgia Dome (2008-16) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium (2017-18) were the previous host sites.

GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines the biggest reason for the move was the cost to play at MBS. The GHSA paid roughly $600,000 to play in the home of the Atlanta Falcons last season.

Hines said last week the vast majority of the income generated from the games goes to the participating schools. 

"Our thoughts are that our schools that make to the championship game in a revenue sport should not incur financial liability by making it to the championship," Hines said.

Hines also said last week that he was in discussions with MBS officials to lower the cost to play in the stadium. 

"We value our partnerships with the Falcons and MBS and the facility and experience are second to none," Hines said. "The cost of operating MBS is justifiably more than other venues, therefore the costs associated with holding our championships there are higher. At the same time, we have to do what's best for our schools and association financially."

The two parties failed to come to a suitable agreement. 

Georgia State Stadium had been swirling around the state as a possible new site after the initial announcement that the GHSA was looking around for a new home. 

On Tuesday, the GHSA decided the former Turner Field, a baseball stadium turned football stadium, would be the perfect site to host the 2019 GHSA football finals. The finals are slated for Dec. 13-14. 

"Great venue, great playing surface, operationally a good fit," Hines said. "(It's also) financially beneficial for participating schools."

Hines also said fans will now have the option to purchase tickets online through GoFan — a ticketing service specializing in high school events — or pay at the gate. Another added bonus will be the ease of entering and exiting the stadium and teams, fans and employees will have better and more parking closer to the stadium, according to Hines.  

Forsyth County Director of Athletics and Activities and GHSA executive committee member Nathan Turner said he is happy with the move.

"This is a great move for the organization," Turner said. "Georgia State Stadium did an excellent job transforming Turner Field into an awesome football stadium. It's a perfect venue to host the GHSA state championship games. I believe this is the start to a great partnership with GSU for years to come."

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