Sites to behold: Search continues for Super Bowl homes
Jim and Mary O’Connor know a thing or two about cruises, whether it’s to the Caribbean or some other exotic locale. But this summer, the man in charge of running the Eastern Massachusetts high school football playoffs has been on a different cruise. O’Connor and his wife of 52 years have been cruising around the state looking at stadiums - 22 of them, to be exact.
With football practice getting under way across the state tomorrow, O’Connor already has been hard at work identifying the best venues for the 16 EMass semifinals that will be held Tuesday, Nov. 29, and the five Super Bowls not being held at Gillette Stadium that are scheduled for the following Saturday, Dec. 3. O’Connor met with MIAA deputy director Bill Gaine Thursday to go over his summer homework.
For Gaine and O’Connor, the stakes were raised in May when the MIAA Football Committee voted to allow Central and Western Mass. to play their Division 1 Super Bowl games at Gillette for the next two years. This will be the first time schools outside EMass have played their title games at the Patriots’ home field. The result of that decision, plus the addition of Division 5 this fall, means that instead of needing a site for two Super Bowl games, the MIAA needs to find a home for five games.
“That meeting was a shock,’’ said O’Connor. “We never believed the committee would bring West and Central into Gillette as quick as they did. But it happened.’’
Many of the possible sites have been used before, such as Lowell’s Cawley Stadium and Lynn’s Manning Field. But some are new, such as Barnstable High School. Barnstable added a turf field and can bring in extra seating on the visitors’ side.
Melrose is under consideration, but it is putting in a new field that it hopes will be ready by November. And Marciano Stadium in Brockton is getting a facelift, with a new track and artificial surface.
O’Connor has visited them all, along with others such as Westwood, Canton, Medway, Duxbury, Scituate, Bishop Fenwick, and Andover.
The venues must be turf fields, and some of the other factors O’Connor and the MIAA consider are:
■Geography. How easy is it for teams and fans to get to the site?
■Stands. Are there stands on both sides of the field? And how many fans will the stadium seat? O’Connor said at stadiums with stands on only one side there are concerns about crowd control.
■Parking. Is there adequate parking close to the stadium?
■Press box. Is there room for the media along with staff from both teams?
When all of this is factored in, a few locales stand out, including Cawley Stadium, Manning Field, Bentley College, and Curry College.
But there’s still work to do, a few more “cruises’’ for Jim and Mary. They don’t mind the time commitment. But don’t mention the price of gas.
“We kept looking at the price of gas along the way,’’ said Jim. “Down in Barnstable, I went down 495, and around Bourne there was a gas station that was 8 or 10 cents a gallon less. Just my luck, I had a full tank of gas and couldn’t take advantage of it.’’
Latin on the move After the departure of Tyngsboro (to CMass) and Arlington (to Middlesex), the Dual County League was facing a 6-4 split between the Large and Small. To even things out, Boston Latin will move to the DCL Small . . . Pope John Paul in Hyannis is the newest member of the Catholic Central Small. And yes, that means there are two schools named “Pope John’’ in the conference, with Pope John in Everett the defending champion. Pope John Paul will play its home games at Mass Maritime in Bourne, cutting some of the travel time for opponents . . . Nauset will rejoin the Atlantic Coast League after playing an independent schedule last fall . . . Powerade and the Boston Scholar-Athlete program are teaming up to host the Boston Preseason Combine Classic, a three-day event starting tomorrow at the Salvation Army Kroc Center field on Dudley Street that features the city’s 18 public high school football teams. Players will participate in drills led by prominent area professional and college coaches and players. East Boston native Jermaine Wiggins, a former Patriots tight end, will be the featured speaker tomorrow night.
Sweet 16 for BABC The Boston Amateur Basketball Club added to its trophy case this summer, winning the 15th and 16th national titles in program history. The BABC won the AAU 10th grade title, beating Team Takeover of Washington D.C., 30-29, in the final. BABC was led by Rene Castro with 9 points and Nerlens Noel’s 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. BABC finished 30-0 in the 10th grade division. Earlier, the BABC won the AAU 9th grade championship. Along the way, Everett’s 6-foot-10-inch Noel was named the Summer Defensive Player of the Year by Five-Star.
Bob Holmes can be reached at email@example.com.