Mayor wants Macon to put its best foot forward with return of high school championships
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert didn’t go into full Joni Mitchell mode Thursday, but he came close.
And his point was clear.
After a one-year absence, the Georgia High School Association announced that its basketball championships will return to Macon in March. Macon also will host the dual state wrestling tournament, which previously was scheduled for Jan. 11-13, and the traditional state wrestling tournament, which will take place Feb. 8-10.
The basketball championships were pulled from Macon after issues, including misplaced baskets, at the 2016 event, and they were played in Athens and Atlanta this year. But the Macon Coliseum, which was built in 1968, is now being managed by Spectra, and there are plans for upgrades to the facility, including a new playing surface and new lighting.
“I won’t try to sing it, but I’ll give you just enough of it to help you remember — boop, boop, boop, You don’t know what you’ve got … till it’s gone,” Reichert said, quoting Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi” with an emphasis on the final three words. “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. So you take something for granted, and you don’t put your best foot forward, and you don’t put your heart into hosting an event like this, and this is, has been said earlier, this is an event that is important to these athletes and to the families and the fans that come to support them.
“This does not need to be a second-class operation. For them, these families, these players that are coming — to whether it’s wrestling or it’s basketball — this needs to be a first-class experience for them.”
That’s what the GHSA is banking on. Reichert praised Spectra for making the pitch to the GHSA, and he thanked the GHSA and Executive Director Robin Hines for a “vote of confidence.”
“This is a great day for Macon-Bibb, and to get these flagship events back to Macon is a big win,” Spectra General Manager David Aiello said. “We’re looking forward to working with Dr. Hines and his staff to continue to make this a successful partnership for years to come.”
For the basketball championships, four classifications will hold their title games at the Macon Coliseum on March 7-8. The championships in the other four classes will be held March 9-10 at Georgia Tech.
“We are very excited about the ongoing improvements that are being made to the Macon Centreplex,” said Hines, who said there will be no charge for parking at the events. “The enthusiasm level that Macon-Bibb County officials have shown in bringing back GHSA events has been phenomenal. We expect our fans to be very pleased with the renovations and to again enjoy their experiences at the Centreplex.”