Like every high school football player in the state of Washington, Hornets from both Enumclaw and White River dream of playing for a state championship.
Should either program be blessed with that athletic opportunity, the big game will not be in the Tacoma Dome. That decision was reached Sunday, June 2.
Members of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board voted not to renew their contract with the Tacoma Dome as the host site for the football state championships. Both “fan experience” and financial implications for both the WIAA and spectators were given as primary reasons for 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.
The iconic Tacoma venue “will continue to provide an exceptional experience for the WIAA Mat Classic and Hardwood Classic events,” he said, referring to the state wrestling championships and the hoop finals for Class 4A and 3A.
“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,” Colbrese said in a released statement. “Costs of renting the facility have continued to increase and WIAA staff received criticisms regarding the new seating arrangement for football.”
So, what now?
The Executive Board and WIAA staff will begin surveying potential sites that can accommodate state championship games and will plan to finalize locations by the fall of 2019.
The change will most likely bring an end to the single-site championships format. The title games for all six WIAA classifications (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and 1B) have been spread over two days, all in the Tacoma Dome. It’s anticipated the WIAA will move toward the design of nearly every other WIAA state tournament, where championship games are hosted 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.
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 playoffs in some capacity since 1983.