Championship venues not a crisis

Posted 9/13/23

University of Rhode Island athletic director Thorr Bjorn was recently on WRPO doing an interview and said that he hopes to one day bring the Rhode Island Interscholastic League state championships to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Championship venues not a crisis


University of Rhode Island athletic director Thorr Bjorn was recently on WRPO doing an interview and said that he hopes to one day bring the Rhode Island Interscholastic League state championships to campus, specifically football and soccer to Meade Stadium. It is a topic that has been on the table since I arrived here five years ago that clearly is still very much in the forefront of people’s minds.

To put it politely, coaches want out of Cranston Stadium for football. I have had many coaches over the years say that, whether it is on social media, on the record, off the record, most coaches in the state feel that the Stadium has gone stale and no longer provides the big arena atmosphere that you’d like to see these championships have.

Soccer state championships have bounced around a bit so I will stick to football when it comes to Cranston Stadium.

To be frank, I don’t understand the heat that the Stadium has with coaches. Sure, it does not feel like a big arena, but it provides everything needed, especially for those not involved in the game itself.

It provides adequate seating, parking, concessions, restrooms. It’s centrally located in the state, has quality field conditions, lighting, PA systems, scoreboards, locker rooms. Does atmosphere really trump all of those amenities?

Sure, these colleges would provide all of that plus atmosphere, so I am certainly not saying that I feel that the RIIL shouldn’t rally together to extract them from Cranston. I just don’t totally understand why so many people are treating the Stadium as this old, run down facility. It is still perfectly capable of hosting big events.

I’m not sure how money is involved but I am going to assume that it is cheaper for the league to work with the Stadium rather than these colleges. Considering the number of people fighting for the move, I’d assume money has to be what is keeping the championships in the city. There has been such an outcry over the past few years as well as local college big wigs expressing interest that you’d think the league must be feeling some degree of pressure.

Again, I am not against a potential move to say URI, Brown or Bryant. I think it would be cool to see these games played in these arenas. I am totally satisfied with the Stadium, though, and am in no rush to leave.

Atmosphere is generated by the fans in attendance more than anything. Yes, it’s cool to be playing in a large facility with big stands, scoreboards, loud speakers. Without fans, though, it just feels a bit empty. I have watched championship games be played in large stadiums in the past and there have been times where the fans almost get drowned out. As big as high school sports are, there are some arenas that just aren’t designed for say, only 2,000 fans.

If there is any reason to move on from the Stadium, it is just for something new. Not because it is inadequate, not because it has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. Sometimes a change of scenery is refreshing, which I understand, but don’t tell me that the championships need to go.

This topic is making me dig up an old topic that I have harped on many times before, but this whole conversation once again is a reminder that the Mickey Stevens complex in Warwick should still be renovated. Those plans should be put back on the table.

As the years have gone by, those plans have been pushed further back on the burner to the point that they seem to be completely disregarded. At one point, it seemed almost certain that they would go through, but things have changed.

A brief refresher, former Warwick mayor Joe Solomon proposed a plan that would completely revitalize Mickey Stevens and make it a massive, new athletic complex. It would include a new football stadium, baseball fields and tennis courts. Although since those plans were proposed the city has kept the complex in better condition than a few years ago, it is still a disappointing, underwhelming facility that has so much potential.

The city should dig up the blueprint and break ground. Not only would it give the city something of great value, but it could also bid to be the new site that people are looking for. Cranston Stadium’s capacity is reportedly 5,000, although I have heard it ranges as low as 1,800. Either way, a new stadium with 5,000 seats should be doable at Mickey Stevens with all of that land. Make a big stadium to host football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey. Then make a new baseball field with new tennis courts and field house. Boom.

Once again, I am sure money was the biggest factor in putting these plans to bed which is a shame. That is a potential goldmine just sitting there waiting to be cashed in on, but the city is too afraid to go for it.

pitch, sports, championship


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here