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Corky Kell Classic final day moved to Mill Creek because of pandemic

ajc.com

The Corky Kell Classic will no longer play the final day of its four-day lineup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as was scheduled.

The games were moved to Mill Creek High School for the final day of the event, scheduled for Aug. 19-22.

Challenges brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic compounded the difficulties of accommodating the five-game Saturday lineup, and after weeks of considerations, a move was made to seek an alternate location.

“After much consideration, our teams collectively determined that due to the uncertainty of the current environment, temporarily moving the location of the classic would be best for both parties,” said Tim Zulawski, Chief Revenue Officer, AMB Sports and Entertainment. “We look forward to welcoming the Corky Kell Classic back in 2021.”

Corky Kell leadership moved swiftly to secure Markhan Field at Mill Creek as the alternate host site.

“Mill Creek will work well for us for a lot of reasons,” said Dave Hunter, the executive director of the Corky Kell Classic. “It’s one of the bigger stadiums in Gwinnett County (and) will offer us a lot of space, and we can use the practice fields to put tents up for the teams so that is good. Plus, it is right off of I-85, so it is easy to get to, and there is a lot of parking.”

The Corky Kell Classic played its final day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium each of the past two years.

“We’ve had numerous conversations, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been very upfront about the situation,” Hunter said. “They had to follow the NFL protocols and that was just one of the things. Only 6,000 people could be in the lower bowl and we’d have to get them out and clean out all the seats and then bring people back in. The first 10 rows are not available under the NFL standards and the cost of the sanitation was going to be really tough for us and it just did not fit our model this year. Having to go through all the measures with five games, it would probably lead to the event being astronomically long. You could see the games ending at two or three in the morning.”

The Georgia High School Association is working under a plan to ease Georgia high schools into preparing for athletics in the coming school year. The Corky Kell Classic annually kicks off the football season and remains on track to do that this year.

Hunter is optimistic that the event will go off as planned.

“The programs have been resilient and helpful through all of this,” Hunter said. “One of things we are doing is the teams are normally under a two-year contract, but because of the changes, we are going to offer them all the choice to make it a four-year contract. … It would be huge for us to pull this event off after everything that has happened so far in 2020. Not just huge for Corky Kell’s history, but for the kids in Georgia.

“As we continue in the weeks ahead, we will make sure that all of our staffs and all of our schools are putting the safety and security of the kids first. We want to do that, and we’re definitely going to do everything we can for the fan-safety protocols as well as the players.”

2020 Corky Kell Classic schedule
(Home teams listed on the left)Wednesday, Aug. 19 (At West Forsyth)
Cherokee vs. Carver-Atlanta (5:30 p.m.)
West Forsyth vs. Mays (8:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Aug. 20 (At Dacula)
Denmark vs. Tucker (5:30 p.m.)
Dacula vs. Archer (8:30 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 21 (At Barron Stadium, Rome)
Cedartown vs. Carrollton (5:30 p.m.)
Rome vs. Rockmart (8:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Aug. 22 (At Mill Creek)
Kell vs. Walton (9 a.m.)
Brookwood vs. Collins Hill (11:45 a.m.)
Mill Creek vs. Parkview (3 p.m.)
Lowndes vs. Hoover (6 p.m.)
North Gwinnett vs. McEachern (9 p.m.)

For more information on the Classic, go to www.CorkyKellClassic.com

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