Jacksonville offers $40K to help bring high-school playoffs to town
by Laura Gaddy
Sep 23, 2013 | 5735 views |  0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A huge crowd at a JSU home football  game. Photo by Stephen Gross
A huge crowd at a JSU home football game. Photo by Stephen Gross
JACKSONVILLE -- The Jacksonville City Council on Monday committed $40,000 to help Jacksonville State University's bid to host high-school semi-final games for the next four years.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association is seeking four cities to host the regional semi-finals. Right now, the competitions are hosted at four high schools across the state. But some athletics officials are interested in moving the events to larger stadiums. Officials at JSU plan to use the money from the city in a bid to become one of the four larger stadiums, with each one hosting a competition at one corner of the state, said Greg Seitz, JSU’s sports information director.

“We would have the opportunity to show the university to a lot of high school students,” Seitz said.

The association has been soliciting bid packages from 10 universities and cities to gauge whether there's enough interest in having the semi-finals at regional hubs, large stadiums referred to as “neutral sites.” The number of bid packages, due Oct. 1, will help the association's board determine whether it wants to move the semi-finals to the larger stadiums, said Ron Ingram, director of communications for the association.

If JSU is picked, Jacksonville would expect to host three games on one day, bringing six teams and their families to town, said Mayor Johnny Smith.

“A lot of it is exposure,” Smith said. “You hope it pays off down the line.”

City leaders do not expect to make the money back through sales tax and other revenue that would be generated by the tournament, but Smith said he thinks it’s still a good investment.

“It’s a little bit iffy,” Smith said. “But I think it will be worth it in the long run.”

The university’s $40,000 would be paid out in $10,000 annual allotments if the association awards the bid to JSU. Seitz said some of the $40,000 will supplement the cost of the bid and will pay for staff for the events such as security officers, cleaning crews, parking attendants and scoreboard operators.

Seitz said the the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and Alabama Power also have made monetary that will be included in the bid package. He added that the university is also seeking financial support for the project from the Calhoun County Commission.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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