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Tallahassee prepares for state high school football championships

Posted at 6:58 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 18:58:48-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Organizers expect the FHSAA Championship games to bring 40,000 fans and about $4 million dollars to the Capital City as they head to Doak Campbell Stadium over the next four days.

"40,000 that's everybody: staff, personnel," said Amanda Heidecker, Leon County Tourism Director of Sales and Sports. "Just based off the numbers last year, that was what we're looking at this year."

Tallahassee was only supposed to host three state title games, but, due to COVID-19, a total of 16 teams will compete in Doak Campbell's open-air stadium.

There will be special measures in place for social distancing, from required masks to assigned seating, and rigorous cleaning between games. Heidecker said it's all needed to keep fans feeling safe and ready for spending.

"Looking at about over $4 million in economic impact," said Heidecker. "So something that is much needed for this community in a time where we really have nothing else going on. Schools are getting out of session. People are leaving. They're prepping for the holidays, for Christmas, and so again this is something much needed in our community."

Hotel Indigo General Manager Mark Xenophon said he's happy to see reservations increase after losing revenue due to the recently-canceled FSU football games.

"It's pushed our occupancy about 20 to 30 percent," said Xenophon. "The latter class series where the high schools just finished up their games this past weekend, so we're still seeing some good reservations come in and those things. With our location as close as we are to the stadium, we expect ourselves to be pretty busy."

As for Xenophon and his team, Rickards Head Football Coach Quintin Lewis said he's looking forward to it being a win-win.

"This is what all the hard work hours in the weight room and running and film and getting fussed at about the social distancing and CDC guidelines have really lead us to," Lewis explained. "And so enjoy it, because you've earned it. And win or lose, the Rickards High community will be proud of you, but since we done got here, we might as well win it."

Rickards takes the gridiron versus Plantation's American Heritage on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for the Class 5A state football championship title.