The Tuskegee-Morehouse Football Classic, which began in Columbus 79 years ago, is staying.
At a press conference Thursday, where the announcement was made, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said no other city could match the enthusiasm Columbus has for the game.
Tomlinson is among those who have been working to make sure the game, which attracts thousands to the city, did not move elsewhere. She said the classic has a tremendous economic impact in Columbus.
Discussions have been going on between city government officials, representatives from the Columbus Convention and Visitors Center, the Columbus Sports Council, the Columbus Civic Center and members of the Football Classic Committee.
Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley said those discussions will continue as the city looks for ways to support the game. Lowering the fee for the use of facilities could be one way of doing that. Improved marketing was mentioned.
When asked if he was concerned the game might leave, Hugley replied, "yes."
Proceeds from the game go to financial aid for students at the two private schools.
A Columbus physician Howard Willis is chairman of the classic committee. "We are planning on being here indefinitely," Willis said. "We are excited to be in Columbus."
He said the game has always been a success here and that the committee never checked out any other locations.
James Jackson, the chairman emeritus of the classic committee, called the game an icon in Columbus.
"It is more than just a football game." he said.
Jackson said that there are local people who have worked for 40 and 50 years to make this game a success.
He remarked that some of the game's sponsors have been bothered by the uncertainty of whether or not the game would be returning. "We wanted to make it abundantly clear that we are not going anywhere," he said.
The game's executive director Douglas Troutman said the city needs to loosen up its purse strings in support of the game and assist more with logistics. "We must look at what we envision and where we are now," he said.
Hugley said the direct economic impact from the classic weekend is $1.3 to $1.5 million. He said those numbers are from hotels and the impact is greater than that. He said Columbus State University is doing a study to see what the impact of this game and the annual clash in November between Fort Valley State and Albany State is for the area.
The Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic will continue to be played at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in October.