A landmark decision came down the pike last week for high school football in Washington. The WIAA Executive Board voted not to renew its contract with the Tacoma Dome as host site for the Football State Championships. The organization cited fan experience and financial implications as main reasons for the change.
“The Tacoma community and the Tacoma Dome have been great hosts for many WIAA State Championships over the years,” WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said. “They will continue to provide an exceptional experience for the WIAA Mat Classic and Hardwood Classic events.”
Word of the news was music to the ears of Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell.
“I'm glad for the safety of the players that they don't have to all of sudden try to adapt to an environment that can be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than what they had been practicing and playing in the recent weeks,” Maxwell said in an email. “Who knows over the years how many different players have been effected by this and have left the biggest game of their life up to that point because of heat cramps from the environment.
“It also didn't help that the locker rooms were like saunas,” Maxwell said. “The playing surface was very questionable as well as they rolled turf out over concrete. Often times the turf was not flush and left pockets which were tripping hazards. There was no rubber filling in the turf as well which of course added to how hard the playing surface was. I can go on about other items as well but I will leave it there.”
Maxwell led three of his Woodinville teams to the Tacoma Dome over the years. Most recent was the 2017 4A Gridiron Classic, where the Falcons fell to Richland 28-21. Ironically, Maxwell was a defensive back for Inglemoor in 1993, when the Vikings played Tumwater in the old Kingdome for the State Championship. Two years later, the title games were moved to the Tacoma Dome, where they’d remained until last week’s decision.
The change will probably end the single-site championships format, meaning games for various classifications will be held at high school stadiums 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 Dome, and related costs of attending the event, such as parking and concessions, will be significantly reduced as well.”
Maxwell’s first preference was to think big, while knowing the more likely outcome to be modest.
“It would be nice to be in [CenturyLink Field] or Husky Stadium,” Maxwell said. “But I don't know if the cost of those venues will be too expensive. I would be fine doing what they do with the semi-final process as it's definitely better than playing in the Tacoma Dome.”