Game has been held in Cookeville past four years
CLARKSVILLE – The Toyota East-West Football All-Star Classic will be held in Clarksville – not Cookeville – in 2017.
The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper reported Thursday that the game, which features the state’s top 88 high school seniors and is held after the TSSAA Blue Cross Bowl, will move to Austin Peay State University in December. That’s contrary to reports filed earlier this year that the Classic would stay put. It’s been held in Cookeville at Tennessee Tech University since 2012.
Bill Marbet, executive director of the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association, which organizes the All-Star Classic, told the paper he was contacted by Clarksville officials the last week of January about the possibility of hosting.
“We were treated tremendously by Cookeville, and this was a very difficult decision to make,” he said. “Our decision had nothing to do with how we feel about Cookeville. But it was just the things that Clarksville could offer us that made our decision, really.”
Austin Peay’s new football facility played an important role, Marbet said. APSU renovated Fortera Stadium to the tune of $19 million in 2014. He and members of TACA’s board of directors toured the city last week.
“Clarksville is a new place, and we’re excited about it,” Marbet told the Leaf-Chronicle. “It’s centrally located in the state, and I think the distance for player travel kind of evens out. But we don’t know how long it will be here. We’re still trying to figure that out.”
Officials estimated the event will generate more than $88,000 in revenue for the city.
Cookeville last month won a bid to host the BlueCross Bowl through 2020, beating out, consequently, Clarksville, who also made a play for the state football championships. The BlueCross Bowl has been held in Cookeville for the past eight years. Cookeville’s bid offered the same financial guarantee as recent years of $253,000 and promised continued facility enhancements to Tech’s Tucker Stadium. A rendering was shown in regards to a state-of-the-art videoboard that will be installed before the 2017 kick-off. Wilson also noted that 30 percent of funding has been identified for an extensive stadium renovation.
At that time, chamber officials said Cookeville would also continue to host the All-Star Classic, held the week following the BlueCross Bowl games.
“Although we had an understanding that TACA had planned to remain in Cookeville no matter the decision of the TSSAA Board of Control for the BlueCross Bowl, we appreciate the partnership and opportunity to host over the past five years,” Molly Brown, marketing director for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau, said. “While we are disappointed, we will continue to focus on creating an outstanding athletic hospitality to our current and future sporting guests.”