Mixed Feelings About School Finals at the Dome
There are mixed views surrounding the news that that two of the marquee high school championships in Ontario - the Prentice Cup in baseball and Metro Bowl in football - won't be played at Rogers Centre this year.
For the students, who will miss out on swinging the bat and fielding baseballs in June and running with a football in the fall, it might be a letdown of sorts. I guess there is something to be said about reaching "the big game" and then playing it at the Dome - even when the empty seats do out-number the fans often by 500 to 1 or more.
The flipside, based on what I hear from an increasing number of others, might be a better choice. That's taking the games to a more regionalized set-up and using facilities like universities to build awareness. Canadian university football coaches would have an easier time trying to convince some of the graduating players, still undecided, about playing in this country rather than rush south of the border to U.S. schools.
If marketed well by athletic associations, the localized games might also attract more fans and media coverage. It happens in other Ontario championships - like basketball.
And some people simply like the idea of having football played indoors. Same for baseball - in June.
I'm with the large number of fans who think both the Prentice Cup and Metro Bowl should be played outside. Last I looked, there aren't domes in all the major cities with pro teams. So, what's wrong with a bit of snow for football and sunshine for baseball?
For the Prentice Cup, it's only the second time in 31 years that the game will be outside the major league park. Tentative plans have it at Toronto's Connorvale Park with playdowns on June 7 and the final on June 8. The qualifying games are at local ball parks in Whitby and Windsor. If it rains, so what's another day. I know there are provisions for students to play games and then write exams.
The Buffalo Bills' announcement on Tuesday, having their NFL game in Toronto on Nov. 7 against Chicago, seemed to catch school organizers by surprise. From what I was told, no backup plans were in place. It looks like games will be spread out across Ontario and I see nothing wrong with the Metro Bowl at that great facility owned by the University of Toronto.
Then again, the Bills - or even the Argos - could pick up the rental fee at the Rogers Centre as a gift to the schools so they can continue the gridiron games indoors. Picking a day when the facility is available could be another issue.