Hendersonville Standard

TSSAA votes to hold football state championships in Chattanooga for 2021, 2022

Davidson Academy take the field at Tucker Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 3.JOSHUA HICKS

Davidson Academy take the field at Tucker Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 3.JOSHUA HICKS

MURFREESBORO — The TSSAA football state championships will move to Chattanooga for the next two years.

The TSSAA Board of Control voted 11-1 in favor of Chattanooga, which won out over Cookeville after of virtual presentations by both cities.

The TSSAA had legality concerns over Cookeville’s proposal to sell advertisements on its video board. That move could breach the TSSAA’s contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the event’s sole sponsor.

TSSAA’s legal counsel advised against entering into a contract because of that, and the Board of Control convened briefly to present that information to Cookeville in case it wanted to adjust its proposal before a third vote.

After two ties, the contract was awarded to Chattanooga.

Cookeville’s contract with the TSSAA began in 2009 and has kept all nine football state championship games at Tucker Stadium. Chattanooga was the only other site to bid on the 2021 and 2022 games.

Cookeville’s contract guaranteed the TSSAA $253,000 per year compared to Chattanooga’s $250,000.

Representatives from Cookeville touted the site’s central location among other things. Cookeville is fewer miles from Nashville and Memphis, and the competing sites are virtually equidistant from Kingsport. (Kingsport is nine miles closer to Chattanooga.)

Chattanooga’s bid was submitted by Chattanooga Sports organization. Providing $3,000 less than Cookeville, the proposal emphasized Chattanooga’s experience as a tourist destination.

It also touted fan experience — vendors and pregame activities, a new jumbotron, walkability downtown and restaurants — and a larger spectator capacity. Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium holds 22,000 people, not including luxury seats. Tucker Stadium, which was built in 1966, seats 16,000.

TSSAA discussed concerns with the playing surface at Tucker Stadium. Tennessee Tech athletics director Mark Wilson said he hopes a new surface can be installed before next fall or in spring 2022 at the latest.

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