Legacy Field loses gig as host of 8-player football final

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 3:39 pm on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

GREENVILLE – Greenville High School’s Legacy Field will no longer be the host of the high school eight-player football finals.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) voted at Representative Council meetings Sunday and Monday to move the eight-player finals from Legacy Field to the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette for the 2017 season.

The move was made to make sure bad weather didn’t affect the game, according to MHSAA communications director John Johnson.

Players from Powers North Central celebrate with the eight-player football title they won Nov. 26, 2016, at Legacy Field in Greenville. The MHSAA is moving the eight-player finals to the Superior Dome starting this fall.

“The Representative Council wanted to provide the same kind of playing experience for all of the eight-player teams by taking weather out of the equation,” Johnson said. “Other factors were trying to create an atmosphere that you can only do with having a doubleheader at a single site, possibly wrap-ping some 11-player semifinal games around it; and the geography of the teams – especially in Division 2 – tilts more to the north.”

There will be two divisions of eight-player football starting in the fall.

Greenville athletic director Brian Zdanowski said he thought the MHSAA would make the move.

“We enjoyed our time hosting this game, and although we were aware that it was likely going to be moved to a different venue once they went to two divisions, it was still kind of bittersweet when we officially received the news,” Zdanowski said. “However, we are still grateful that the MHSAA has confidence in us to host events of this caliber.”

Zdanowski said the benefits to Greenville High School and the Greenville area were widespread.

“Well, we have always been a frequent host of MHSAA tournament contests in the past and have a strong reputation across the state, but the 8-man finals was something new, it was unique, and since it was televised, it really gave great exposure to our new stadium, brought many people into the community who had never been here before and was good for our businesses in town who had added potential patrons,” he said. “Also, based on the high number of requests that we have had for tours in the last five years, our stadium and set-up was used for a lot of new stadium construction ideas at places like Davenport University, ( Grand Rapids) Catholic Central High School and Sparta High School.”

Zdanowski hopes to host other football playoff contests at Legacy Field similar to hosting a Division 4 semifinal between Catholic Central and Hudsonville Unity Christian on Nov. 19, 2016. Catholic Central won 31-3.

“We have hosted a number of semifinals plus other schools in the past, and I plan on that continuing,” he said. “Not only do we have the facility to accommodate these types of games, we have the experience, knowledge, the staff, and have earned the trust of the MHSAA.”

The Superior Dome hosted the first eight-player final in 2011.

Moving the eight-player finals was one of several moves of high school sports finals the Representative Council voted on during their meeting.

The Representative Council also voted to move the girls basketball state finals from the Breslin Center at Michigan State

University to Van Noord Arena at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. The move was necessary to not conflict with the NCAA’s first round of the women’s basketball tournament, which is going to be at the Breslin Center.

The boys basketball finals will return to the Breslin Center next season because it won’t conflict with any NCAA tournament.

The team wrestling finals, which were held at McGuirk Arena at Central Michigan University, will move to Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo for the next four years.

The individual wrestling finals, which were held at The Palace of Auburn Hills, are moving to Ford Field next year. The Palace closed April 12 when the Detroit Pistons moved their home games to the new Little Caesar’s Arena in downtown Detroit.

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