Hines declined to discuss negotiations with other venues, but the most practical alternative is Georgia State Stadium, the former Turner Field south of downtown Atlanta. Georgia State has actively pursued high school games and other events and has been the site for several Corky Kell Classic high school football games the past two seasons.
Georgia State Stadium’s capacity is 24,333. Attendance for the state finals in 2018 was 40,463, but that was spread over two days and eight games.
Attendance was down 15.5 percent last season largely because of the forced moved to mid-week games to accommodate Atlanta United, which made the MLS finals on the originally scheduled weekend. In 2016, when the games were played as scheduled on a Friday and Saturday, the attendance was 47,922. Several of the 2017 finals, the first scheduled for Mercedes-Benz Stadium, were postponed and moved to high school venues because of a winter storm.
The only other stadiums in Georgia with capacity of more than 20,000 are Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia’s Sanford Stadium and Georgia Southern’s Paulson Stadium. Leaving Mercedes-Benz would put the finals outdoors, making weather an issue. The 2019 finals are scheduled for Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.
The GHSA is not considering a return to participating schools playing host to games on their home fields, Hines said. The move to the Georgia Dome in 2008 began a tradition of neutral-site championship games that the GHSA plans to maintain.
Hines said that the GHSA board would make no decision at their meeting Tuesday in Thomaston.
“Nothing is finalized,” Hines said. “I just want to fill them in on where we are and what the financial situation is and get some input from them before we move further. We’re in the process of evaluating everything. We’re going to look at several different venues as well as Mercedes-Benz.”