Prep title games moving

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2014

JACKSON — Come Monday, it’ll finally be official.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association has called a press conference for Monday morning at which it will be revealed that all six prep state football championship games will be leaving Veteran’s Memorial Stadium here in this Capital City for the first time in over two decades.Since 1992, all state titles games have been played at the stadium. And for a decade before that, the games were played at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College just outside of Jackson in Clinton.

Don Hinton, executive director of MHSAA, said the organization is constantly looking to universities and junior colleges across Mississippi to host the 15 championships, giving athletes a chance to play in the best venues the state has to offer — a positive echoed by many high school coaches.

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According to sources close to the developing situation, Mississippi State and Ole Miss will alternate hosting the state football championship games, starting this year and 2017. Southern Mississippi is also expected to host the title games, likely in 2018.

Picayune has won two of the past three Class 5A state titles in Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, beating Oxford and Starkville in the title games.

Ole Miss is located in Oxford and Mississippi State is located in Starkville.

Southern Miss is also scheduled to host the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Football Classic in 2015 and 2017, alternating with Montgomery. The school will become the first Mississippi venue for the All-Star Classic, which had been played in Mobile or Montgomery since it was created during the summer of 1988.

Also, the MHSAA is expected to announce that it will relocate The prep state basketball championshi games this coming season as well.

Jackson State will host the boys’ basketball championships, with the girls’ tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum. The MHSSAA expanded the state tournament and would need two different sites.

“The MHSAA looks forward to having all of these agreements in place soon,” MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said in a statement during this week’s Mississippi Association of Coaches annual All Sports Clinic.

“We are always aiming to conduct our state championship events at the best possible venues. We’ve shared this vision with high school and university leaders from around the state and received positive feedback. This is an exciting time at the MHSAA.”

Veteran’s Memorial Stadium opened in 1950 with a capacity of 25,000, expanded in 1961 to 46,000 and expanded again in 1981 to its current capacity of 64,000.

For the Class 6A and 5A state title games, the largest classifications, crowds usually average around 15,000 people.

But playing in top-end college football stadiums outweighs the travel for many coaches, including Brandon’s Brad Peterson. The Bulldogs are expected to contend for a state title this coming season.

“I compare it to Louisiana schools playing in the Superdome,” Peterson said. “That’s not in the central part of the state, but it’s the nicest venue.”