The South Jersey high school football championship games will be played in South Jersey after all.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Monday the South Jersey Group I, II, III and IV public school title games will be played at Rowan University in Glassboro on Dec. 2-3.
The games had been scheduled for The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township, Mercer County, which the NJSIAA considers Central Jersey.
The NJSIAA, which oversees most high school sports in the state, had originally chosen The College of New Jersey as the host because Rowan's facilities were supposed to be under construction the first weekend of December. But the construction, which included the renovation of the locker rooms, was pushed back.
"Based on its location in the southern part of the state, Rowan is the ideal location for these athletic contests," NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko said in a prepared statement Monday. "It was always our first choice for the South Jersey region contests."
South Jersey public school title games were held at the home fields of the highest seed from 2001-2010. The NJSIAA made a switch to neutral fields this year in part so it could charge more for tickets. A law limits the amount the NJSIAA can charge for events held at high school facilities.
Tickets for past championships games at local high schools have traditionally cost $3 for adults and $2 for students. Ticket prices for the Rowan game have not yet been set. But on Monday, state acting Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf ruled that tickets for championship games at Kean University and the College of New Jersey will cost $5.50 for adults and $2 for students.
The NJSIAA had asked to charge $8 for adults for those games.
The schedule at Rowan calls for one game to be played Friday night, Dec. 2 and three games to be played Saturday, Dec. 3. One Saturday ticket will give spectators admission into all three games that day.
Timko said the NJSIAA is reviewing Cerf's decision and may request additional conversations about the matter with Cerf's office.
Local coaches said Monday that Rowan, which is in Gloucester County, is a better choice than TCNJ, but some would still prefer the games to be at the highest seed's field.
"I'm a fan of home-field advantage," Oakcrest coach Chuck Smith said. "It gives the fans a chance to come out and see the game. The further you get from where you, are the less people are able to attend."
Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said if the games have to be at a neutral site, he prefers Rowan to sites in the northern part of the state. But he also prefers having the games played on high school fields.
"Whoever has the home field (based on a higher seed), that's where the game should be played," Lancetta said. "I guess it's a little better because of traveling distance. I hope we have to worry about it."
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