First and goal: NCAA Division II football championship needs a home this December; local sports organizers giving it a serious look. #romeready

First and goal: NCAA Division II football championship needs a home this December; local sports organizers giving it a serious look. #romeready

Chick-fil-A Sports Report
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Image courtesy of the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions.

 

Is it time to put “the band back together again” and make a bid for the NCAA Division II national football championship this December?
Our answer is yes but that’s up to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sports Commission — and “the band,” also known as the “host committee” that successfully welcomed six NAIA title games at Barron Stadium.
At issue:

“The NCAA is currently accepting bids to host the final game of the 2018 Division II Football Championship. Information on bid requirements for the Dec. 15 contest may be found online. Bids for the championship game will be accepted until Monday, Sept. 17, with a new site being awarded shortly after. Bids for the 2019-21 Division II national championship football games will be open to interested parties at a later date. The 2018-22 championship games were awarded to Children’s Mercy Park, the home field of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City but field renovations will prohibit the game from being played this December.” — from the NCAA

The above information has been shared with members of the local host committee as well as Lisa Smith and Ann Hortman in hopes of making a quick bid to secure the Dec. 15 game — and maybe more. (Available services). There could be some familiarity here as well as some in Rome speculated about a bid for the DII finale when it was announced that it would move from Florence, Ala.
What’s key about 2018? Consider:
  • Rome/Floyd County as well as Barron Stadium have the resume. The NAIA title game was played here each December from 2009 through 2013 before it was moved to Daytona Beach for the past four seasons. During that NAIA era, Barron Stadium received a significant SPLOST-funded upgrade and further improvements have since been made.
  • Even more hotel beds exist. Both the Hampton Inn and Courtyard are new players — and very close to the stadium — since the last NAIA touchdown. Hawthorn Suites also has grown since then.
  • Rome/Floyd has perfected the “two-minute drill” in ramping up for a mostly unscheduled guest — remember the ACC men’s and women’s tennis championships moved to the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College following the NCAA’s concerns about North Carolina’s “bathroom bill”? The tournament returned to Cary, N.C., the next season but returns to our area in 2020 and 2021.
  • Rome/Floyd has a Division II college in Shorter University (part of the reason the NAIA moved was because Shorter moved from that league to earn D-II status). So, if needed, there’s a “host” school here.
  • The average attendance of the championship games between 1976 and 2017 is roughly 8,100 fans. The peak numbers came when North Alabama, Troy State and Jacksonville State played in the title games and it was hosted in nearby Florence, Ala., or Northwest Missouri played in Kansas City. Barron Stadium’s official capacity under the Georgia High School Association 24-inch seat rule in the permanent bleachers is 5,360. It was 6,500 under the old seating rules. The temporary bleachers add probably 500 seats (thank you, John McClellan).

What’s more, there’s even a hashtag floating about: #romeready.

 

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