Posted: 3:56 pm Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

FHSAA basketball, wrestling championships staying in Lakeland 

By Matt Porter

The FHSAA announced today the fall and winter sports venues that received its highest rankings. Those venues have been offered contracts to host its fall and winter championships in the next two to three years.

Most notably, the Lakeland Center will retain boys and girls basketball and wrestling.

“The experience with the folks in Lakeland is what made the difference,” said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing said in a press release. “The center has a great staff and adequate facilities. We felt that staying with an organization that knows how to run state high school championships at this level was in our best interest.”

No Palm Beach County site has bid on a winter sports championship in recent years, FHSAA spokesman Seth Polansky said. In February, the FHSAA announced the football state finals will stay at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando for the next three years.

The FHSAA ranked all proposals it received from the bidding venues for each sport’s championship. The highest ranked bid in each sport was notified of its standing and was subsequently offered a contract. All but one venue and the FHSAA are currently in contract negotiation, according to the FHSAA release.

The one venue with a signed contract in place is for bowling. Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando will remain the host of the state championship for another three years. Boardwalk Bowl has hosted the FHSAA Finals for seven straight years after the inaugural championship in 2003 was held in Kendall.

Other venues with top rankings include (information from FHSAA):

Cross Country – Little Everglades Ranch, Dade City (two years) Cross country finals have been held at Little Everglades Ranch since 2005. This ranking beat out Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee and Ernie Weaver Youth Park in Brooksville.

Golf – Mission Inn, Deer Island Golf and Lake Club, and Harbor Hills Country Club, Lake County (two years) First time FHSAA Golf Finals will be held in Lake County. Finals have been in Marion County for the past two years and Polk County the two years before that. This ranking beat out bids from St. Lucie County and Marion County.

Swimming & Diving – YMCA Aquatic Center, Orlando (three years) Swimming & diving finals have been held at the Orlando YMCA for the past four years, and also from 1997-2000. This ranking beat out the bid from The Long Center in St. Petersburg.

Girls Volleyball – Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee (three years) Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau also currently hosts the competitive cheerleading, girls weightlifting and boys weightlifting finals at Osceola Heritage Park. Girls volleyball had been at the Lakeland Center for the past nine years, and submitted the other bid to the FHSAA for this championship.

Securing these venues is subject to successful contract agreement, according to the FHSAA release.