The relationship between Northwestern State University and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association has been established across three-plus decades of NSU hosting the state cross country championships. Thanks in part to that long-running agreement, the LHSAA announced Tuesday its 2020 state high school football championships have been relocated to NSU’s Turpin Stadium from Dec. 27-30.
“I know I speak for our mayor, Ronnie Williams, and our university president, Dr. Chris Maggio, when I say we are very grateful for the opportunity to host this four-day high school football championship event,” said Director of Athletics Greg Burke.
“While hosting NSU and high school football games are second nature to our staff, this will be different in that there will be nine football games over the course of four consecutive days. Then you factor in COVID-19 and the emphasis that must be placed on health and safety and it changes our normal approach to hosting games. Yet, our ultimate focus will still be laser focused on providing the best possible experiences for the teams and fans who will be visiting our campus and historic city.”
The nine-game championship slate was moved from its traditional location of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans because of what the LHSAA termed COVID-19 capacity restrictions, financial responsibilities and risk of cancelation. Natchitoches becomes just the third different city to host the state football championships since the 1980s when the Superdome Prep Classic became a staple of the Louisiana sports calendar. Shreveport’s Independence Stadium hosted the 2005 title games after the Superdome was left unplayable by damage from Hurricane Katrina.
“We are thankful Northwestern State University stepped up to host our football championships,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said in a statement. “We are saddened to be leaving the Superdome this year but look forward to our return in 2021. We are certain Northwestern State University will provide a first-class experience for Louisiana student-athletes.”
Added Burke: “The foundation of the relationship our university and our athletic department have – and have had – with the LHSAA and with Commissioner Eddie Bonine, will be very essential as we prepare on a very short timeline to host this event.”
The nine games will spread out across four days at Turpin Stadium. Details surrounding the schedule of those games will be released by the LHSAA at a later date. While the LHSAA state cross country championships have been a pre-Thanksgiving landmark event for more than three decades, the addition of the state football championships will allow for visiting fans to experience one of Natchitoches’ most visible traditions – the downtown historic district festooned with the famous Christmas light displays that have made the city one of the top 10 holiday tourist destinations in the country.