The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors voted unanimously today to hold this year’s championship games of the DIAA Football Tournaments at Delaware Stadium.
It will mark the first time since 1974 that the state’s high school football title games have been held at the University of Delaware.
The schedule has not been set, pending UD’s status in the NCAA Football Championship Series playoffs. If the Blue Hens do not have a home playoff game on Nov. 30, the DIAA games will be played on that Saturday. If UD has a home playoff game, the DIAA games will be played on Sunday, Dec. 1.
The games will be played as a doubleheader on either day, with the Division II championship game beginning at 2 p.m. and the Division I championship game starting at 6 p.m. Admission will be $8, and one ticket will be good for both games.
The championship games have been played at Delaware State University since 2004. But DIAA executive director Kevin Charles said DIAA had received complaints from retailers about football fans parking in lots at stores along U.S. 13 near Alumni Stadium. With Black Friday falling on the scheduled date of the Division I championship game this season, DIAA began looking for an alternate venue.
“When we realized we had this Black Friday issue, we thought we really need to explore this now,” Charles said. “It really becomes problematic when our patrons fill the parking spaces of the vendors on the biggest shopping day of the year.”
Charles said Delaware athletic director Eric Ziady had approached him last year about the possibility of UD hosting more DIAA events. Charles said the university will charge DIAA $3,300 to rent Delaware Stadium for a day, an amount that was roughly equivalent to what DIAA had been paying Delaware State to host the championship games.
“The further we explored it, the more we realized that not only could we afford it, but it’s essentially going to cost us the same amount of money,” Charles said. “We thought this is a good year to give it a try. We haven’t been there since 1974. The first four years we had a football tournament, our finals were [at UD] when it was a single division.”
Charles said the DIAA’s football committee was unanimous in its approval of the move. The DIAA board’s vote only covers this year’s games. Charles said DIAA would evaluate attendance, revenue and other factors after this year’s games are played before determining the site of title games in future years.