After months of negotiations and deliberations, a decision for the future of the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic has been reached.
Classic Committee chairman Howard Willis confirmed on Wednesday that an agreement had been reached to keep the game at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium for the 79th consecutive season, the longest running rivalry among historically black colleges and universities.
The game will be played on October 11, Willis said, though details beyond that have not been confirmed.
“There have been a lot of deliberations with city leaders, including the mayor, city manager, sports council and both institutions,” Willis said. “All have agreed that the game should remain in Columbus. Beyond that, we are still in negotiations on specific details. What I can say is that all those elements and various leaders of those organizations have committed resources and their organizations to help us promote the game and build around the game.”
Willis said that he and the others involved in the negotiations have a timeline, and “that timeline is ticking now.”
“We should be able to, within four to six weeks, tie up all our loose ends, and then we’ll make a further announcement,” he said.
He added that, while an official agreement hasn’t been reached beyond 2014, those involved are also working ahead to plan the 80th annual game at Memorial Stadium in 2015.
The agreement comes a little more than six months after the future of the game in Columbus was called into question. At the time, prior to the 78th meeting in October, Willis said it was “getting a lot more difficult to keep (the game) at Memorial for a lot of reasons.”
“We have to compete against better stadiums, better environments and better support from city government for stadiums across the country,” he said.
He cited difficulties like the lack of sizable box seats for sponsors and budget difficulties as reasons for the inconclusive future of the game in Columbus.
While Willis noted on Wednesday that not everything had been settled, he stressed that all parties involved are working tirelessly to make it the best environment possible.
“We’ve been assured and reassured from the various communities in the city that they want to keep the game here for a long time, and they’re working hard to keep the game here,” he said.
The specific time for the game, whether afternoon or night, is also undecided, Willis said. That will be determined based on the television schedule for games as determined by the conference.