The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board voted Sunday not to renew its contract with the Tacoma Dome as the host site for the high school football state championships, citing fan experience and financial implications for both the WIAA and spectators as the primary reasons to make 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 in a news release. “They will continue to provide an exceptional experience for the WIAA Mat Classic and Hardwood Classic events.
“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. Costs of renting the facility have continued to increase and WIAA staff received criticisms regarding the new seating arrangement for football (after renovations of the facility last year).”
Search for new sites
The executive board and WIAA staff will begin surveying potential sites that can accommodate state championship games and plans to finalize locations in the fall. The change will most likely bring an end to the single-site championships format, moving toward the design of nearly every other WIAA state tournament where championship games are held 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. “Fans will see lower ticket prices by no longer paying the service fees associated with the Tacoma Dome, and related costs of attending the event, such as parking and concessions, will be significantly reduced as well.”
The Tacoma Dome has hosted the Gridiron Classic since the 1995-96 season, replacing the former Kingdome in Seattle as the championship site. The facility has been involved in the WIAA football tournament in some capacity since the 1983-84 season, when it first began hosting assigned semifinal games.