Select schools need to keep their football championships at the Superdome
For years, the public and private schools have complained about the way state championships were operated in the state of Louisiana.
Some of the complaints were legitimate.
Some, well, were just those complaining to be complaining.
Today, the private schools, thanks to a surprising series of votes at Friday’s LHSAA convention, have a chance to branch out and see if they can do it well on their own.
There are several dilemmas, but none bigger than football.
Cajun Field in Lafayette is a possibility, with a capacity of over 41,000. St. Augustine High School won its last football title there, 16-7, over New Iberia in 1979 to win the class 4A championship.
As a young reporter that night, fresh out of college, I remember one thing for sure about that game other than the outcome.
It was cold.
Yulman Stadium could be a possibility, but Tulane has an agreement with the city that prevents two high school games from being played there on the same weekend.
With four select championships to likely be played over two days, that would seem to rule out Yulman.
LSU’s Tiger Stadium would be a possibility, but what happens if it rains heavily? Do you want a state championship game being played in less than ideal conditions?
Which brings us back to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
There’s no place like it anywhere.
It is the Holy Grail of Louisiana high school sports. Getting there became such an obsession in the state, it became one of the catalysts for the playoff split in football which took place at the January 2013 LHSAA convention.
What the select schools need to do is get a price on the building for four games with one on Friday night and three on Saturday. Then simply play the games there.
Don’t practice at the Superdome, and look for every opportunity to cut costs to make it work.
If the ticket prices go up a few dollars, so be it.
However, some coaches will push to have football championship games played on home fields, citing the potential financial bonanza. Two schools could wind up splitting a $100,000 gate.
The decision will come down to the following.
Do we concentrate on making money and cede the prestige of playing in the Superdome to the public schools? Select schools will have to make that decision. Schools will also have to weigh competitive advantage.
All it will take is one perceived bad call by an official for the home team at one of these championship games to open a flood of criticism.
Can you imagine if something like what happened to the Saints in the NFC championship game happened to a visiting team in a Division I championship game?
The hue and cry would be overwhelming.
Basketball sites are less problematic, as are those for baseball and softball. Meanwhile, the catalyst for growing high school football in Louisiana over the last 35 years has been that big domed stadium on Poydras Street.
Getting to the Superdome in football gets you on the map. It makes history.
The select schools shouldn’t detour to somewhere else in the state of they don’t have to do so.
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WGNO Sports Director/WGSO 990am
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…