By Mitch Stephens
After further review, and a substantial cut in fee, the Home Depot Center in Carson was deemed the best choice after all.
The California Interscholastic Federation announced Wednesday that the Home Depot Center will remain the host for its 2008 and 2009 State Football Championship Bowl Games presented by Farmers.
The announcement was somewhat surprising because last month CIF Executive Director Marie M. Ishida announced that California's governing board had shopped for a new venue strictly because the cost to play at The Home Depot Center “was prohibitive.”
Those costs plus disappointing attendance led to disappointing revenue for the three-bowl series so the CIF took bids at seven other sites: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Bakersfield’s Memorial Stadium, University of Pacific, Stanford, UC Davis, San Jose State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
When they came back last week to the Carson facility, a venue CIF liked all along, Home Depot management was more than accommodating. Financial figures were not disclosed.
“The Home Depot Center worked with us to bring CIF back to their facility,” Ishida said in a prepared statement. “Their willingness to provide a financial deal and other incentives indicated their strong desire for our football championships to return.
“Even though several other venues across the state expressed interest in hosting these games, The Home Depot Center offered an agreement that we could not refuse.”
Though the venue remains the same, the games have changed from a three-game, one-day event to a five-game, two-day format. The games will be played December 19-20 and the selection of the teams will be made the previous Sunday.
The games have pitted Southern California versus Northern California section champions in three different enrollment-based games. The new five-game format has yet to be determined but will likely feature an “Open Division” pitting the very top teams from North and South regardless of enrollment.
The new format will likely be decided in May.
A team still must be a CIF Section champion to be eligible for selection to the state football championship. Last year, there were a total 47 CIF Section champions - 23 from Northern California and 24 from Southern
Home Depot Center General Manager Rod O’Connor said he was “thrilled” to have the bowl games back at his facility for at least two more years. The all-grass surface seats 27,000 and hosts Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy and Major League Lacrosse’s Los Angeles Riptide.
The UCA/Macy's California State Cheerleading Championships and a Coaches Clinic sponsored by NIKE will continue as ancillary events to the state football championships.
The CIF previously offered state football championships from 1919 to 1928, but the event was discontinued due to financial constraints.
California was the last state in the country to add a new form of state football championships, starting in 2006.
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