CANTON,Ohio- The OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) has a good problem to deal with when it comes to hosting the state finals for high school football. As of now, the current setup has the Ohio high school football finals rotating between Columbus (Ohio Stadium) for two years then shifting to Massillon (Paul Brown Tiger Stadium) and Canton (Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium).
But now the OHSAA has 1. Realized you only need one stadium to host all of the state title games. And 2. Will have a brand new Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium by Summer of 2017. Plus Tom Benson Stadium is connected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
So why am I writing this article?
Canton,Ohio desperately needs to have a great ticket sales showing in 2017 and 2018 before the state finals return to Columbus for 2019. Canton is hoping to host the NFL draft in 2019 or 2020 which is when the NFL will celebrate it’s 100 year anniversary.
I can understand it from both sides personally.
First- Columbus is at the center of the state. Whether your high school football team is from Toledo (Northwestern,Ohio), Steubenville (Southeastern,Ohio), Cincinnati St.Xavier (Southwestern, Ohio), Columbus Bishop Hartley (Central,Ohio), Cleveland St.Edwards (Northeastern, Ohio) Boardman Spartans (Eastern,Ohio) or Massillon Tigers and Canton Mckinley Bulldogs (Northeastern,Ohio). You get the idea. It’s convenient for all high school teams.
Second- Columbus has proven to be a great host. They have plenty of hotels and everything you need to make your stay great.
Third- I don’t want to put a number or percentage on the amount of kids, but I will say this. A large amount of Ohio football players love the idea of playing at Ohio Stadium. It’s where the Buckeyes play. Who wouldn’t want to play on that field. Even if your’re not an Ohio State fan, it would probably be pretty special to play on the field that, not only so many famous Buckeyes have played on, but maybe your’re a Michigan, Penn St or Michigan State fan and know their players have played on that field. It’s special. I wish I could step foot on that field just to say I have been there.
Ohio stadium seats well over 100,000 people. Yes, it’s nice to play in front of your family and friend in that stadium. But there’s something special about playing in a full stadium compared to a stadium that still has a lot of empty seats.
First- Tom Benson Stadium will create a more cozy but louder atmosphere due to the smaller sized stadium.
Second- Tom Benson Stadium in connected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Many kids and young men dream of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Why not play at the stadium that is connected to where you dream of ending up at a football player.
Third- Not only is the Pro Football Hall of Fame a place where all the greats of Pro football end up, but the Hall of Fame is now labeling itself as “The most inspirational place on earth”. They want to inspire these young adults to, not only do great in football, but even more importantly, do great for yourself and your family to make the world a better place. Why not have all these players and their families put themselves in that type of setting.
While Columbus provides a lot and geographically, it definitely is much better, Columbus, from a financial standpoint doesn’t need any help.
Canton needs the financial help. It’s not even close. While the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village is being built to lure more tourist to the area, that’s still won’t be completed till 2019. Canton roughly brings in $4.3 million when they host state finals.
At the end of the day, I can understand both sides. But thing I know for sure, both venues provide their own special elements to make a trip to the state football finals special.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis