Complex decisions for championship sites will challenge LHSAA’s select schools

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The Shrine on Airline
Zephyr Field, aka The Shrine on Airline, used to host state championship baseball games (Photo: Parker Waters).

Tick, tick, tick.

Three and a half months ago in Baton Rouge, a vote at the Louisiana high school athletic association’s annual convention gave select schools control of their championships in football, basketball, baseball and softball.

It was supposed to be a watershed moment.

The selects, unhappy with playing their championship games at supposedly inopportune times and in places like Alexandria and the Lake Charles area, would finally get to come together and choose their own venues.

But, as part of that legislation, there is one caveat.

Unless every school in a division can agree on a championship venue, the higher seed can choose the site of the championship game.

So, in Division I, C.E. Byrd, lumped in with a coalition of mostly New Orleans area Catholic schools, can decide to play the state football championship game in Shreveport.

Scotlandville, a basketball powerhouse, who could be the number one seed with regularity, could choose to play hoops at their “home” site.

This perceived impasse was not supposed to happen. These schools expected to do what they felt their public school brethren would not. That is, come together for the common good.

In the meantime, several quality venues have been sought for their possible availability, including the Superdome for football.

Numerous options for baseball championships in the metro New Orleans area include Zephyr Field, Tulane University and the University of New Orleans.

In basketball, one venue has already submitted a proposal while several others have been sought.

In the meantime, a jammed schedule of games will again force many metro area baseball teams to play semifinal games midday and midweek.

First pitch for Lakeshore’s Class 4A semifinal against Breaux Bridge is 2 p.m. Thursday in Sulphur. Catholic of Baton Rouge and Rummel will play on an adjacent field Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Remember the good old days at Zephyr Field and Turchin Stadium? The state 5A tournament played four quarterfinal games on Friday, followed by two semifinals and a championship game on Saturday.

Playing your event in a Triple A ballpark or a modern college facility added some juice to the championships.

Now, a foul ball on field 40 in Sulphur can theoretically wind up on field 41 in the middle of a game.

The folks who host the state baseball tournament in Sulphur do a great job. But, it is not a state championship venue.

Sorry, don’t mean to offend anyone, but it is what it is.

Of course, in the 2019-2020 school year, the select schools may not have to worry about such an issue.

If they cannot agree, they may be playing championship games in each sport at the park chosen by the higher seed.

In late January, what seemed like a watershed vote and an idea whose time had come doesn’t seem to be so rosy just a few months later. The clock is ticking again.

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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