Monday January 30th, 2023 2:40AM

Football: GHSA, Atlanta Falcons agree to 3-year deal to move finals to MBS

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

The Georgia High School Association and the Atlanta Falcons have agreed on a three-year deal to play the state football championship games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium beginning in 2023. 

Officials from both organizations made the announcement on Thursday afternoon at The Benz. 

Buford head coach Bryant Appling knows all too well what it's like playing in the state's NFL football stadium. Appling has been a part of 14 state football finals as an assistant and head coach at Buford. He's won seven as an assistant and three as head coach. 

He said moving the finals back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a great thing. 

"These kids and coaches deserve the best facility and perfect conditions in the final round of the playoffs," he said. "All of the outdoor championship games that I have been a part of, the weather was a factor. But more importantly, The Benz is a dream venue for these communities, just like the [Georgia] Dome used to be. The excitement about the opportunity rises when these schools know the games will be played there."

Buford athletic director Tony Wolfe agreed with Appling. 

"This is great news for all Georgia high school football," Wolfe said. "The Benz is an unbelievable venue. For Football players, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in an NFL stadium. For fans, it’s a wonderful venue to enjoy high school football in perfect conditions.  

"I’m excited for bands, cheerleaders, fans, players and coaches. I am proud of the GHSA as well. They work very hard to create a first-class experience for all sports, and this is the best of the best. Thankful for Georgia State as well, for all they did to provide a home for the state championships for the past several years. " 

After the 2018 finals in the Benz, the GHSA, citing financial reasons, sought another venue to play the state championship games. They eventually entered into a 3-year agreement with Georgia State University to play the title games at Center Parc Stadium, formerly Turner Field, in 2019 and extended the deal to the 2022 finals.

GHSA executive director Robin Hines told the Board of Trustees in 2019 that the cost of the 2018 championships at Mercedes-Benz was $600,000 for the three days of football games.

Falcons CEO and president Rich McKay told media in attendance at the presser on Thursday thats he intends for the agreement to go far beyond three years.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, Georgia High School Association
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