Tickets sold for the 2020 football championship games were down 12.6% from 2019, according to figures released Wednesday by the Georgia High School Association, but the GHSA called the three-day event a success, given COVID-19 concerns.

Paid attendance was 23,987 for the eight games and 24,476 overall with the addition of two finals in flag football. Paid attendance in 2019 was 28,011.

“The pandemic conditions most likely affected the casual fan who would normally attend but chose to view the (GPB) broadcast instead,” GHSA executive director Robin Hines said. “However, we were happy with the crowds and the support the teams enjoyed. The championships were a huge success.”

The 24,476 remains well below the record paid attendance of 47,922 in 2016 and the 40,463 of 2018, the last year the finals were held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In 2019, the GHSA moved the finals outdoors to Center Parc Stadium, reportedly saving as much as $500,000 on rent.

Prince Avenue Christian players celebrate with fans after their 41-21 win against Trinity Christian during the Class 1A Private championship at Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)
Prince Avenue Christian players celebrate with fans after their 41-21 win against Trinity Christian during the Class 1A Private championship at Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

The 2019 finals were played in rainy conditions that likely blunted attendance. The 2020 championships were played in good weather but during a pandemic. They also were contested Dec. 28-30, more than two weeks later than normal, because of a delay to the regular season prompted by COVID-19.

The GHSA hasn’t yet released financial data from the finals, including payouts to participating schools, but with ticket prices at $20, the attendance would’ve generated $489,520. Attendance for all five rounds of the football playoffs was 237,049, the GHSA said.

The GHSA also revealed Wednesday that cross country was the second most well-attended fall championship, with 7,060 in tickets sold. Volleyball drew 3,040 for the finals, 23,345 for all rounds. (Cross country has no GHSA-run preliminary rounds.) Fast-pitch softball drew 4,243 for its finals, 29,819 overall. The swimming state championships were held without fans or media.

Here are paid attendance figures for the football finals since 2008, when they were moved to one neutral site, which at the time was the Georgia Dome.

2020 – 24,476 (8 games)*

2019 - 28,011 (8 games)

2018 – 40,463 (8 games)

2017 – 41,202 (8 games)

2016 – 47,922 (8 games)

2015 – 46,312 (7 games)

2014 – 45,744 (7 games)

2013 – 43,989 (7 games)

2012 – 40,326 (7 games)

2011 – 40,401 (5 games)

2010 – 44,154 (5 games)

2009 – 36,685 (5 games)

2008 – 37,659 (5 games)

*Includes paid attendance for two flag football games.

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