The Louisiana High School Athletic Association will have a new title sponsor for its state championship games beginning in the fall.
LHSAA Executive director Kenny Henderson announced Thursday that the Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the new sponsor.
The two organizations reached a six-year agreement.
“I think it really sends a good message for us to join with the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” Henderson said. “It definitely brings together two of the premiere amateur sports organizations in the state.
It can’t do anything but make us stronger.”
State Farm had been the title sponsor for over two decades, but didn’t renew its contract.
“We sent them the renewal contract and they had until Feb. 1 to sign the contract and Feb. 1 came and they did not sign it, so we made a phone call,” Henderson said. “Everything sort of happened very quickly after that.
“We certainly appreciate the partnership we had with State Farm for many years.”
Paul Hoolahan, CEO of Allstate Sugar Bowl, was glad to see the opportunity come for a partnership with the LHSAA.
“We have a longstanding relationship with this group,” Hoolahan said. “In years past, we had a little bit of an impediment because we had AllState as our title sponsor and it obviously conflicted with State Farm. We graciously stepped away.
“Then we discovered recently that we may have an opportunity to get back in the game and when we heard that, we eagerly pursued it and that’s why we are here today.”
Hollahan said it’s too early to say if the deal will extend beyond six years.
“I think it’s a wait and see attitude on that,” Hollahan said. “But there is a great potential for growth. We’re looking at it from a standpoint of a long- term arrangement, but we will evaluate just as (the LHSAA) will on a year to year basis and try to maximize the results as we go forward.”
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has been involved in the sponsorship of many LHSAA championship events in the past, including baseball, football, soccer, swimming and tennis. The Bowl sponsored the LHSAA Football Championships from 2000-05. Now the Sugar Bowl will sponsor all 25 LHSAA championships.
It’s still too early to tell how the new partnership will differ from the old one. But the two organizations did unveil a new state championship trophy, fresh with the new Sugar Bowl logo on it.
“I don’t know yet,” said Henderson about the differences. “The parts of the agreement are pretty much the same. But now we will be dealing with a company based solely in Louisiana, which is nice. ... It will lend some prestige to the state championships having the All State Sugar Bowl attached to our championship name.”
Henderson said the biggest benefit of the sponsorship is that it helps with the budget. The LHSAA currently works with a budget right at $4 million.
“A little over a million of that comes from sponsorship,” Henderson said. “If we don’t have our sponsorships, we either have to cut out some of the things that we offer for our schools or we have to charge our schools more to do that. So it’s very important that we have strong sponsorships that will help us offset the costs of what we do.
“Our largest income is definitely the state championships. But our largest expense is also the state championships. We have 27 sports, and we try to make sure they are all treated equally and play at the best venues possible. That doesn’t always come inexpensively.”
The first championship will be the volleyball championships Nov. 13-15 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
“We have always worked hand in hand with the Sugar Bowl and it just seems to be natural fit to continue working with them,” Henderson said.
LHSAA State Championship Dates for the 2014-15 school year
Volleyball – Nov. 13-15 (Pontchartrain Center, Kenner)
Cross-Country – Nov. 17-18 (Northwestern State, Natchitoches)
Swimming – Nov. 19-22 (SPAR Aquatic Center, Sulphur)
Football – Dec. 11-13 (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
Wrestling – Feb. 20-21 (Pontchartrain Center, Kenner)
Indoor track and field – Feb. 21 (Carl Maddox Field House-LSU)
Soccer – Feb. 26-28 (Tad Gormley Stadium, New Orleans)
Girls basketball – March 2-7 (Burton Coliseum, Lake Charles)
Boys basketball – March 10-14 (Burton Coliseum)
Powerlifting – March 19-21 (Alexandria High School)
Bowling – April 10 (TBD- Site location up for bid in June)
Tennis – April 27-30 (Heard Stadium-UL-Monroe)
Gymnastics – May 1-2 (Baton Rouge High Magnet)
Softball – May 1-2 (TBD- Site location up for bid in June)
Golf – May 4-7 (TBD- Site location up for bid in June)
Outdoor track and field – May 7-9 (Bernie Moore Stadium-LSU)
Baseball – May 14-16 (McMurry Park, Sulphur)