After years of complaints about the Macon Coliseum came to a head in March, the Georgia High School Association has decided to part with tradition and move the boys and girls basketball championship games out of Macon.

Following widespread criticism for misplaced baskets during this year’s state finals at the Macon Coliseum, the GHSA has awarded hosting rights to the 2017 championship games to Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum and Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion, according to a release from the GHSA.

Veterans senior demonstrates the difficulty of playing on non-regulation courts
Veterans senior Anna Nicholson demonstrates the difference one foot makes when shooting and rebounding. The Veterans girls basketball team was one of the many teams affected by the GHSA's decision to allow the state championships to be played with hoops a
Caitlyn Stroh
The move ends a lengthy history of basketball championships in Macon. At least one championship game a year has been played in Macon from the 1940s onward, first at City Auditorium and later at the Macon Coliseum.

Stegeman Coliseum will host games March 8-9, while McCamish Pavilion will host games March 10-11. Specific game times for each classification were not announced, but the release stated that games would begin at 2 p.m. each day, two hours earlier than the weekday sessions at the Macon Coliseum.

“The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech have two of the premier basketball complexes in the state,” GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips said in the release. “Both schools worked tirelessly with the GHSA to devise a schedule that eliminates any conflict between the state championship games and the Bulldogs’ and Yellow Jackets’ own use of these marvelous facilities. The primary goal of the GHSA is to promote the best interests of Georgia’s high school student-athletes, and we are thrilled at the experience these venues will offer to the teams, their schools and their fans.”

Georgia Tech has hosted basketball championship games on numerous occasions, splitting duties with Macon. The university last hosted championship games in 2003.

Stegeman Coliseum will be hosting the GHSA finals for the first time.

The departure of the GHSA basketball finals delivers another blow to Macon’s image when it comes to sports. The move comes 14 years after Macon saw its minor-league baseball team, the Braves, depart 1920s-era Luther Williams Field for a new stadium in Rome. The city also saw minor-league hockey and indoor football teams depart within the past decade and a half, although hockey returned last fall when the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Macon Mayhem took the ice.

Like the Braves, facility issues played a leading role in the GHSA basketball finals’ departure.

The Macon Coliseum, built in 1968, has been the subject of numerous complaints in recent years during the state finals, from parking to concessions to restrooms. Cell phones largely do not work in the arena, and Coliseum management had not made public wi-fi available.

During this year’s championship games, it was discovered that the baskets were set up incorrectly, leaving insufficient space behind each of the backboards that was in play. GHSA officials chose not to adjust the baskets once the problem was pointed out.

The economic impact of the tournament’s departure could be difficult to quantify. The GHSA has moved in recent years to holding championship games only in Macon, spreading semifinal games around the state. Because of that, not every team playing in Macon spends the night in the city.

According to Robin North, the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s vice president of sales and services, the GHSA basketball finals did not contract many hotel rooms in Macon and was not an event that the Convention and Visitors Bureau handled.

North wrote in an email that the GHSA team wrestling duals, held in January at the Macon Coliseum, had an economic impact of more than $400,000. She added that the 2015 individual wrestling finals, which were also held at the Macon Coliseum, had an economic impact of more than $600,000. Both events are three-day competitions in which student-athletes took part on multiple days.

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