BELDEN – The talk of moving the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s football championships out of Jackson’s Veterans Memorial Stadium is quickly becoming more action.
“We’re getting a lot closer than we have in the past” said MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves, after Monday’s MHSAA District 1 winter meeting. “I’m gonna say we’re 70-75 percent there.”
It’s so close, next year’s games could by played at one of the state’s three major universities.
All of the MHSAA championships have been held in the outdated Jackson venue since 1992 … in recent years more and more to the displeasure of many fans, teams and even coaches.
The stadium has seen better days. The new plan – which would have to pass with a majority of votes on the executive committee in February and June – is to rotate the games from year-to-year at Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss.
“We’ll drive to Anchorage, Alaska, if we’re in the state championship,” Falkner coach Cory Armstrong said.
The talk has gotten really serious in the last two months, Neaves said. Mississippi State seems the favorite to host first, because Ole Miss has the 2014 Egg Bowl and those schools wouldn’t host in years when their stadiums were the site of the annual SECrivalry game.
That’s how Alabama does its state title games, alternating between Tuscaloosa and Auburn.
“Coaches are for it and of course our contract’s up with Memorial Stadium,” Neaves said. “It’s just a process of finishing putting everything together.”
Neaves said the MHSAA has had “extensive” talks with officials at all three colleges, and all favor the move.
“It’s something that needs to happen,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said. “I think the other has served its purpose and I think it would be great for the universities and a great experience for the kids.”
The association is also looking at playing the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Football Classic in Mississippi for the first time (at Southern Miss) and moving the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star basketball game to Jackson State.