WIAA moving state football championships out of Tacoma Dome

By Nathan Joyce

The Seattle Times

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board voted Sunday, at a meeting in Renton, to no longer hold the state football championship games at the Tacoma Dome.

The WIAA cited fan experience and “financial implications” in a news release for not renewing the contract.

“Ultimately, the Executive Board needed to evaluate whether holding the Gridiron Classic in the Tacoma Dome made sense for the association, student-participants and fans. Costs of renting the facility have continued to increase and WIAA staff received criticisms regarding the new seating arrangement for football,” WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said in the release.

Colbrese has said that it cost nearly $70,000 for the WIAA to hold the six title games at the Tacoma Dome in 2018. The rising costs have become an increasing factor as attendance at state events, one of the main resources of income for the WIAA, has been declining for decades.

The Tacoma Dome was recently remodeled, and some of its sight lines weren’t ideal for fans.

No determination has been made as to where the championship games, usually held the first weekend in December, will be held. The WIAA said they will survey sites and make a decision in the fall. The WIAA said it’s likely the single-site era for the title games has come to an end. Colbrese said that ticket prices will decrease at the new venues as there won’t be a service fee that was added on by the venue.

The tentative plan is to have three venues hosting doubleheaders, but the sites could be fluid deep into the playoffs depending on who makes the title games.

Since 1995, the Tacoma Dome has hosted all the title games, now numbering six, over two days. The Dome, sometimes called the “Wood Shed” for its wooden roof, has been involved in the state football playoffs since 1983. Before the Tacoma Dome, the title games were held in the Kingdome.

The Tacoma Dome also housed many of the state semifinals, but that arrangement came to an end in 2016 because of increased costs.

The Tacoma Dome hosts the Class 4A and 3A state boys and girls basketball tournaments and the state wrestling tournament. It has hosted state basketball since 1985, when it became the first site in the nation to host boys and girls tourneys concurrently.

There are two years remaining on the contract for state hoops and wrestling, and Colbrese said it was likely the tournaments will stay at the venue.