COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors Wednesday voted to award Stark County and Columbus the opportunity to host the state football finals for two years each beginning with the 2012 season.
The vote took place during a special board conference call meeting and was in response to a recommendation from an 11-person state football finals subcommittee.
Stark County, which has hosted all or portions of the finals for the past 20 years and has two years remaining on the current contract to host the finals, has been awarded the 2012 and 2013 championships, while Columbus will host the finals in 2014 and 2015.
As part of the motion to approve the recommendation, the board also gave itself the opportunity to discuss option years for hosting the finals in the future. Stark County will continue to utilize Canton Fawcett Stadium and Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium as the site for the six championship games in a two-day format rotating between the two facilities.
Columbus will host all six finals at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University, also in a two-day format.
The OHSAA originally received proposals to host the state finals from groups in Stark County, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron/Akron and Kent State, Bowling Green and Toledo, and on April 26 the finals subcommittee heard in-person presentations from all but the latter two groups.
After the potential host sites were trimmed to Stark County and Columbus, members of the subcommittee visited the facilities in Canton and Massillon in Stark County June 2 and Columbus on June 8.
Meetings were held with each group the week of June 28 to finalize their proposals.
The subcommittee, which conducted a conference call meeting July 14 to first attempt to finalize a recommendation for the OHSAA Board, reconvened via a conference call today before agreeing upon a final recommendation.
The subcommittee was comprised of three OHSAA Board of Directors members, five OHSAA administrative staff members and three officers from the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
“We sincerely thank the six groups that were interested in hosting the state finals,” said OHSAA Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D., a member of the subcommittee. “When we narrowed down our choices to the final two groups, the subcommittee felt that there was no question that both would do an outstanding job in hosting the championships and that both had a lot to offer. We feel like using both locations will give us the best of both worlds and that the real winners will be our participating schools and their fans.”
Steve Stirn, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of the Logan-Hocking Local Schools, was a member of the subcommittee.
“I want to thank the football finals subcommittee for its work and for conducting a thorough review of the proposals,” he said “I also want to sincerely thank the groups that submitted proposals for not only their interest but also for their tremendous efforts in putting together impressive presentations. Because the presentations from Stark County and Columbus were equally outstanding, it only makes sense that they both be given the chance to host, and the Board is in concert with the subcommittee’s recommendation.”
The championships were first held in Stark County in part in 1990 and entirely in 1991.
Prior to that, 37 state football championships were held in Ohio Stadium in Columbus between 1982 and 1989.
Of the 190 total state football finals held in the 38-year history of the tournament, Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium has hosted the most title games at 79, Canton’s Fawcett Stadium is second with 38 and Ohio Stadium is third with 37.
“Stark County is excited to continue our 20-year relationship with the OHSAA state football championships,” said John Kiste, executive director of the Canton/Stark County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “This tournament has meant a great deal to our community, and we are delighted to host the teams, the coaches, the fans, the bands, the cheerleaders and the OHSAA through 2013.
“The proposal process has helped us take community sponsorship to an unprecedented level and continue to work with an unparalleled corps of volunteers. We continue to look forward to a strong future in working with the OHSAA,” he added.
Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, added, “The Greater Columbus Sports Commission, The Ohio State University and our local organizing committee thank the OHSAA and its Board of Directors for the vote of confidence in awarding the 2014 and 2015 state football finals to Columbus,’’ she said.
“Our community has a long history of hosting OHSAA state championship events, and we look forward to working with the OHSAA, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and other partners to guarantee successful state football championships in Ohio Stadium in 2014 and 2015.”
The games during the foreseeable future will be held the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend, which in most cases is the first weekend in December.