State baseball moving to Akron; football will remain at Canton

The Ohio High School Athletic Association will keep the state football championships at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Stark County for this coming season. But the baseball state championships have a new location.

The OHSAA board of directors unanimously voted 8-0 on Thursday to finalize those one-year contracts for the upcoming seasons. Both decisions had been expected.

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Relocating is the four-division state baseball tournament. With the season extended one week, that caused a conflict at Huntington Park in Columbus, home of the Class AAA Clippers, a minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The state baseball tournament had been held there, usually the first weekend in June, since the park opened in 2009.

The baseball final four shifts to Canal Park in Akron, home of the RubberDucks, a Class AA Indians’ minor-league affiliate on June 6-8. Already anchored at Akron is the state softball final fours at Firestone Stadium. That will be held one week earlier, from May 30 through June 1.

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“Our baseball season is a week later now and it conflicts with the Clippers’ 2019 home schedule,” said Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA Executive Director in a release. “We looked at many sites, but for several reasons, including similar schedule conflicts at other locations, we believe that Canal Park is the best choice.”

Prior to Huntington Park, the state baseball tourney had a long run at Cooper Stadium in Columbus, the Clippers’ previous home, and elsewhere, including Dayton’s Fifth Third Field in 2005.

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The football championships shifted from Ohio Stadium at Columbus to Canton for 2017-18 with the intention of rotating the seven-division, three-day event between the Stark and Franklin county locations. That didn’t happen because the OHSAA couldn’t renew a contract with Ohio State University and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

The Benson Hall of Fame Stadium opened in 2017 and is the centerpiece of an ambitious Canton makeover that includes a new shopping plaza, hotels and dining. Previously, the football state championships were split between Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium and Canton’s Fawcett Stadium when at Stark County.

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The football state championships will be held Dec. 5-7.

“We have a great site in Canton for the football finals and we are pleased to return there in December,” Snodgrass said. “We will continue to talk with Ohio State and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission about hosting in the future, but we wanted to make a decision this winter regarding 2019 and we would need more time to come to an agreement with Columbus.”

Chaminade Julienne (Division II) and For Loramie (D-IV) won state baseball titles last season and Coldwater (D-III) was runner-up. Alter (D-III) and Marion Local (D-VI) were state football runners-up last season.

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