The GHSA Football Championship will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the next three years on Thursday afternoon after announcements from Georgia High School Association Executive Director Robin Hines and Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay.
“This is a three-year deal meant to be much longer than three years,” McKay said. “We are in a good position. We always had to be open on Thursdays and Saturdays.”
All schedules are tentative, but the current thinking is that the title game will take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, a week and a half after the semi-finals. If the NFL decides to change the Atlanta Falcons’ home games during that period, the schedule could be moved forward one day to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I’ve really enjoyed our great relationship and partnership with the Falcons. We’ve never stopped talking about finally coming back here,” Hines said. You’re right, and I’m grateful that you’re able to work with us to make this happen.”
McKay also said that hosting the championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was important to Arthur Blank in multiple ways, including the flag football final that was played inside the building in the past. The stadium now hosts about 50 events a year and is in high demand, but high school sports are important to Blank.
“It’s important when he calls and asks, ‘Why aren’t they there?’ You can see he’s always saying, “When are you coming back here?” We have been arguing over the years. I’m glad they (GHSA) have honored the agreement with Georgia and this year has been the year to accomplish[moving the game to Mercedes-Benz].”
McKay admits he has the flexibility to change mid-week (or early-week if needed from NFL Flex) by changing from Center Parc Stadium to Mercedes-Benz for the High School Championships.
“There were serious discussions that started a while ago,” says Hines. “We have spoken with the board and voted for a coach. They are excited about this possibility.”
The 2023 GHSA High School Soccer Championship schedule will begin with daily flag football contests for the three-day event, followed by tackle football contests, rather than all flag championships on one day.
Other issues raised at the press conference included the concept of replays in GHSA football games. Hines said the next step in that process is to see if the pilot program motion gets passed at his April executive committee meeting. And the first event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August could be the first test.