AJC Craps On DakotaDome

Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the largest newspaper in Georgia) took a surprising and unwarranted pot shot at the DakotaDome.

The paper’s “Take Ten” prep sports blog took on the issue of state football championships that are held in domes. Apparently, folks in Georgia aren’t too fond of the state’s title games being held in the Georgia Dome. So, in response, “Take Ten” spent last weekend searching around the Internet to see what other states do for their championship games.

The result was a list of 10 title game sites “worse than the Georgia Dome”.

And as I read through the list, I was blown away by what I saw at No. 2:

2: University of South Dakota DakotaDome (Vermillion, S.D.) — If you thought Murfreesboro sounded desolate, try Vermillion. The South Dakota High School Activities Association holds its annual championships in this small South Dakota town of less than 10,000. You’ll find more soybean fields than you will people. The DakotaDome is a multi-purpose facility for the university and city located in the Southeastern corner of the state.

The first question I have is, what does the size of the town have anything to do with the championship games? The DakotaDome gets excellent crowds for even the 9-man championship games, and the Dome has been nearly filled for the Class 11AA title games. Yeah, the city of Vermillion may not get all that excited for these games, but it’s the actual site that matters, not the town hosting the games.

This random pot shot sounds a lot like the complaints we hear every year about the state football championships. People consistently whine and complain about having the games in Vermillion, and not somewhere else.

But here’s the thing, where else would South Dakota hold the games? The fact that the games can be held indoors is a major reason why Vermillion is the site of choice. There are only two outdoor stadiums in S.D. that can hold more people then the DakotaDome — 1) Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, and 2) Coughlin Alumni Stadium in Brookings.

In my opinion, moving the state football championships would be a huge mistake. I realize traveling can be a hassle for West River or even northern schools, but there’s something to be said about the allure of the Dome and spending a season vying for the title game. Wouldn’t a championship game lose its luster if you’re just preparing to play ANOTHER game outdoors? Where’s the excitement there?

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