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Title tilts could be leaving ’Boro

Title tilts could be leaving ’Boro
MURFREESBORO (AP) — Located in the center of the state, Murfreesboro has long been the home of high school title championship events in football, basketball, track and field and baseball.
But the Tennessee State Secondary Athletic Association, which governs high school sports in the state, says the host school, Middle Tennessee State University, is demanding more money that is eroding the profit that primarily funds the association.
Board Vice President Fred Kessler wants to encourage other cities to bid for the championships and offer better incentives. The events bring in millions in economic benefit through students, faculty and families that travel to Murfreesboro every year.
If a resolution isn’t reached, the state football championships played this month could be the last ones in Murfreesboro for several years. The football contract for the city and MTSU expires this month and the contract for Spring Fling, an Olympic-style festival for spring sports, expires in May.
“It would be a significant loss of revenue for us,” said Sandra Miller, general manager of Doubletree Hotel in Murfreesboro.
MTSU doesn’t charge rent for the use of its facilities, but the association has to hire personnel like ticket takers, ushers, security personnel and other workers.
As the university is facing steep budget cuts, officials say the school’s expense to host the events is rising.
“We are dealing with state appropriation budget cuts and our cost for hosting events is increasing,” said John Cothern, an MTSU senior vice president. “We have had to look at everything.”
The costs MTSU charges the association have gone up. The association paid MTSU more than $47,000 to host the 2007 football championships, up 25 percent since 2002.
But TSSAA officials say that the events bring in millions to the city and county.
Other cities are eager to get a chance to host. Murfreesboro lost its bid last month to host the girls state soccer tournament, after Chattanooga guaranteed the association $25,000 and a split of all gate receipts above $25,000.
“I think the message was sent that you better show us that you can do a little more,” said association board member Lynn Brown, vice principal of Maryville High School. “I think we, the board, had the feeling that Murfreesboro isn’t doing all it could do in order to get championships here.”
Mona Herring, vice president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, said the bureau plans to work with the city and MTSU to create attractive bids it hopes will lure championship events.
“We’ll have to see what kind of money MTSU needs to run the event and help them put some money in so we can put together a package that we hope will be appealing to TSSAA,” she said. “Having these tournaments is extremely beneficial to us. It puts us in the spotlight 12 times a year. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.”
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Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com

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