Georgia State Stadium, formerly known as Turner Field (aka The Ted).
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

Leadoff: MEAC-SWAC Challenge makes its way to Atlanta

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early buzz in Atlanta sports. 

A media event is scheduled at Georgia State Stadium this morning regarding an annual, 13-year-old college football game new to Atlanta:  the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. 

North Carolina Central and Prairie View A&M will meet in the game Sept. 2, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, at the stadium formerly known as Turner Field. Update: The event also will be played there in 2019 and 2020 on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. 

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference commissioner Dennis Thomas, Southwestern Athletic Conference commissioner Edgar Gantt, Prairie View coach Eric Dooley and North Carolina Central coach Granville Eastman are scheduled to participate in today’s media event. 

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge has been held since 2005, annually matching teams from the two conferences. It was played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., in 2005-07, at Citrus Bowl stadium (now known as Camping World Stadium) in Orlando from 2008-2013 and 2015, at Bright House Networks Stadium (now known as Spectrum Stadium) in Orlando in 2014 and at campus sites in 2016 and 2017. 

This year’s game will feature two teams meeting for the first time: MEAC representative North Carolina Central, which was 7-4 last season, vs. SWAC representative Prairie View, 6-5 last season. Both teams have new head coaches. 

MEAC teams have won nine of 12 games in the Challenge, with one game (2016) ended early by lightning and declared a “no-contest.” 

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Events and televised on an ESPN network. The North Carolina Central-Prairie View game will be shown on ESPN2.

The event’s move to Atlanta puts it in the same city as the end-of-season Celebration Bowl, which matches the MEAC and SWAC champions. The 2018 Celebration Bowl will be played Dec. 15 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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The Falcons organization is in the process of hiring an outside expert to evaluate egress issues at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a state board was informed Tuesday.

Congestion in the concourses and gate areas after events has drawn complaints since the stadium opened six months ago. 

The Falcons “are going to bring in a consultant to review their egress thesis,” Georgia World Congress Center Authority chief operating officer Kevin Duvall told the GWCCA board at its monthly meeting Tuesday. 

See story here.

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ICYMI: College football tackles attendance decline.

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