RENTON (AUDIO) — The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board voted Sunday not to renew its contract with the Tacoma Dome as the host site for the Football State Championships, citing fan experience and financial implications for both the WIAA and spectators as the primary reasons to make the change.
“The Tacoma community and the Tacoma Dome have been great hosts for many WIAA State Championships over the years,” said WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese. “They will continue to provide an exceptional experience for the WIAA Mat Classic and Hardwood Classic events.”
“Ultimately, the Executive Board needed to evaluate whether holding the Gridiron Classic in the Tacoma Dome made sense for the Association, student-participants and fans. Costs of renting the facility have continued to increase and WIAA staff received criticisms regarding the new seating arrangement for football,” Colbrese said.
The Executive Board and WIAA staff will begin surveying potential sites that can accommodate state championship games and will plan to finalize locations in the fall of 2019. The change will most likely bring an end to the single-site championships format, moving toward the design of nearly every other WIAA State Tournament where championship games are held at various sites across the state.
“While the Tacoma Dome offered the ability to have all State Championship football games in one location, we anticipate that using multiple sites will have its own benefits,” Colbrese said. “Fans will see lower ticket prices by no longer paying the service fees associated with the Dome, and related costs of attending the event, such as parking and concessions, will be significantly reduced as well.”
Tumwater Football Head Coach Bill Beattie has been apart of long history of state championship appearances at the Tacoma Dome, both as an assistant and Head Coach of the Thunderbirds. Beattie said he has mixed feelings about leaving the Tacoma Dome, but doesn't mind the idea of playing outside in December.
The Tacoma Dome has hosted the Gridiron Classic since the 1995-96 season, replacing the Kingdome as the final site. The facility has been involved in the WIAA Football Tournament in some capacity since the 1983-84 season, when it first began hosting assigned semifinal games.