Sports

Williams-Brice back in play for football finals

Byrnes High's Skylar Franklin, left, and Marcus Lattimore celebrate their win over Sumter in the Class 4A, Division I championship game, Saturday.
Byrnes High's Skylar Franklin, left, and Marcus Lattimore celebrate their win over Sumter in the Class 4A, Division I championship game, Saturday. The State

The Weekend of Champions could be back in the Midlands.

The S.C. High School League’s executive committee voted on a proposal to bring the two-day, four-game football championships back to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Clemson, which hosted the games for the first time last year, made a proposal, but the committee, which met via teleconference, supported the one made by the Columbia Sports Council and USC.

“Last year, they (Clemson and the Clemson Chamber of Commerce) made the better proposal,” S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton said. “This year, the committee liked the proposal made by USC and Columbia (Sports Council). Nothing, of course, is final until we have a contract.”

Clemson’s winning bid for the games last year included no charge to the SCHSL for facilities usage and game-day staffing, a cost of around $50,000.

The move, however, resulted in a decline in attendance of 8,000 to 10,000, according to preliminary figures. Attendance in 2007 was 31,810, and it was 31,638 in 2006.

On Feb. 26, at the Columbia Sports Council’s request, Columbia City Council agreed to commit $30,000 of Columbia’s hospitality-tax revenues, toward the cost of hosting the championships.

Ric Luber, president of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism, said then that the proposal would also include an undisclosed amount of sponsorship funding, which the Sports Council was committed to raise.

“It’s important for a number of reasons, one is the financial impact that it’s going to have on this community,” Luber said. “We’ll do all the things we can to make sure that when they come here they have a great event.”

Singleton said he hopes to have the deal finalized “as soon as possible.”

The committee also voted to keep the high school basketball championships at the Colonial Life Arena. Greenville made a proposal to move the games to its Bi-Lo Center. The Bi-Lo Center played host to the Upper State basketball championships the past two seasons.

“They were willing to forego Upper State championships if awarded the state finals,” Singleton said. “But based on what was represented from Columbia, the (league) members decided to keep it at the Colonial Life Arena.”

The Lower State basketball championships will be played at The Citadel next season. The games were played at neutral sites last season when the league could not reach a deal for a host site.

The Citadel played host to the Lower State finals during the 2007-08 season.

Staff Writer Akilah Imani Nelson contributed to this story.Reach Davis at (803) 771-8442

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