For Steve Vanidestine, recollections from the late 1980s of high school championship football video games and observe meets at Cameron Stadium nonetheless linger.

In 1986, the power hosted the category A out of doors monitor state championships, with the host Rams sweeping both the boys’ and girls’ staff titles.

A yr later, Stearns High school of Millinocket defeated Wells 21-6 on the venue to capture the class B soccer state crown. Since then such championship occasions have come rarely, if in any respect, to Bangor, said Vanidestine, a Bangor High school alumnus and athletic administrator at his alma mater since 1984.

Now, as Bangor prepares to unveil an upgraded Cameron Stadium this fall, there’s hope in the Queen City that the realm can return to prominence on the Maine sports activities scene.

The revival of local sports activities venues in Greater Bangor means extra than simply having the potential to as soon as again host championship games: It could possibly be a sizable financial increase for the world, as evidenced by events such because the annual basketball tournament.

Along with Bangor, fields and tracks in Brewer, Orono and Hermon are all in the strategy of receiving critical upgrades, while a multipurpose field at Hampden Academy had new artificial turf installed in 2019 and already is a daily host of regional and state championship contests.

Cameron Stadium will function a brand new artificial-turf enjoying surface surrounded by an eight-lane track. It replaces a dated six-lane circuit, which Vanidestine stated became obsolete with the set up of the bigger tracks across the state.

New lighting has been installed on several athletic fields at Brewer Highschool while efforts to boost cash for synthetic grass turf proceed.

Orono Highschool is changing its observe and pure-grass competition area, and Hermon voters approved a $2.4 million plan to build a new track and refurbish the excessive school’s Pottle Field.

Regional attractions

Bangor’s Cameron Stadium became a centerpiece of the state’s sports scene after its unique grandstand was inbuilt 1944, even hosting a National Football League preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants in 1959.

More recently, the city’s Mansfield Stadium hosted the Senior League World Series from 2002 to 2016 and just completed its 30th year as a baseball hub for native and regional occasions throughout the spring and summer time.

The highschool basketball tournament at the Cross Insurance Center highlights how vital sporting occasions might be to the local financial system, synthetic turf because the annual occasion attracts 40,000 folks to Bangor every February.

When the tournament was canceled in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Timber Kitchen and Bar mentioned it would lose $40,000 in enterprise that week. The Cross Insurance Center estimated it might lose more than $100,000 in internet income.

In Aroostook County, the addition of an artificial-turf facility has already become a draw for artificial lawn championship events in northern Maine.

Presque Isle Middle School’s Gehrig T. Johnson Athletic Complex has had an artificial surface since 2006, with new turf put in in 2019. The location has change into a heart for interscholastic sports in the County, particularly later within the fall when situations deteriorate on the natural grass fields at surrounding colleges.

Presque Isle is in the rotation for hosting MPA regional and state championship soccer matches, first in 2015 and now once more this fall with the class C and D state finals and Northern Maine Class D title games scheduled there in early November.

“We had a couple of teams stay overnight [in 2015] and different groups made a day journey of it, ate within the restaurants and bought fuel. … A lot of people got here into city that day and i imagine most of them spent cash,” Presque Isle athletic administrator Mark White said.

“It’s actually been good for my program and it’s shown the group in an actual optimistic mild.”

Increasing infrastructure

In 2002, a November snowstorm blanketed the unique soccer playoff websites with snow, forcing the category B and C state championship contests to be moved on brief notice to Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, joining the category A matchup already scheduled there that year.

That move to artificial turf proved so common that three soccer state finals have been performed at Fitzpatrick Stadium yearly since, with one further title sport held on turf on the University of Maine in Orono.

From then on, the Maine Principals’ Association started scheduling other championship occasions at artificial turf amenities.

Before this year’s addition in Bangor and ongoing work at Augusta’s Cony Highschool, the one highschool or middle college-based mostly artificial-turf facilities north of the capital metropolis were in Presque Isle, Hampden and Messalonskee Highschool in Oakland.

That compared with 17 turf services at high colleges south of Augusta, based on an MPA listing.

“We’ve been a bit behind up here in contrast [with] southern Maine, which had more fields at first,” Vanidestine said. “It’s come this way as a result of I feel folks see the worth in it. They usually make decisions in where they go to highschool and the place they stay primarily based on training, and a large a part of it for a lot of are things the place their kids can have entry to issues like athletics.”

Bangor voters last November accepted a $2.Seventy three million bond situation to fund the ultimate part of the decade-long, $5 million rehabilitation of Cameron Stadium. If you liked this posting and you would like to acquire more data with regards to synthetic turf review kindly check out the web site. Vanidestine hopes the power will be a part of Hampden Academy as an everyday cease on the MPA’s championship schedule for soccer, subject hockey, lacrosse, monitor and perhaps even football.

“I assume this is going to permit us to be a regional facility for big occasions once more,” he said.

MPA interscholastic govt director Mike Burnham stated his organization typically has had to succeed in out to excessive colleges and colleges each year to find hosts for championship occasions beyond traditional venues reminiscent of the foremost arenas in Bangor, Portland and Augusta for basketball, The Colisee in Lewiston for ice hockey and Fitzpatrick Stadium for football.

But as more websites with eight-lane tracks and artificial turf have been built or upgraded, Burnham says there are more championship-quality websites obtainable today and faculties concerned with internet hosting championship events might now apply.

That application type consists of a list of site necessities, amongst them adequate seating, parking, concessions, restrooms and facility staff.

“Every yr an increasing number of amenities develop into out there and turf has expanded the opportunity in different elements of the state, including Bangor,” Burnham stated. “Certainly with turf going into the central part of the state with Lewiston and Messalonskee and now Cony and Gardiner and their willingness to host a few of these championships, that brings more folks into central Maine, too, and perhaps it becomes a 3-area rotation as in comparison with a north-south rotation.”

Turf and tournaments

One longer-term prospect for stimulating the native economic system might come from creating weekend travel soccer, subject hockey or lacrosse tournaments involving native groups and visiting clubs from round New England.

The youth sports market within the U.S. was worth an estimated $19.2 billion in 2019, in response to Wintergreen Research Inc.

“There’s great demand within the youth sports activities group for weekend tournaments, weekend play, traveling to access activity and good facilities and high-quality competitors,” Brewer School Department athletic administrator Dave Utterback mentioned.

“Right now the Bangor space is underserviced and all of our households that access these applications need to go to Portland, Saco, New Hampshire or Massachusetts for opportunities to compete in some of these tournaments.”

Wayne Harvey, president of Bangor-area River City Athletics, sees the addition of artificial surfaces in Bangor and probably Brewer to the current turf fields in Hampden and at Husson University providing sufficient infrastructure to attract youth teams from round New England to the realm for tournament competitors.

“Having turf is enormous,” mentioned Harvey, whose groups frequent youth soccer tournaments round New England. “Everybody desires their excessive-degree groups to play on turf as a result of it doesn’t get crushed up badly and is at all times going to play the identical.”

One visit to a tournament site may lead to return journeys with each sports activities and tourism in thoughts, Harvey suggests, as evidenced by the response of some River City Athletics soccer dad and mom to a current tournament they attended in Burlington, Vermont.

“Parents have been already speaking about going back subsequent 12 months and staying an extra couple of days because they wished to go to this restaurant or they needed to see this or try this,” he stated.

“If you’ve something similar in better Bangor, perhaps the primary 12 months they don’t keep as lengthy however for the second yr they may decide they want to go to Camden for a few days earlier than or after or they need to go to Bar Harbor or Moosehead. They need to do one thing else whereas they’re right here so now they keep for a week as a substitute of a weekend.”

Utterback anticipates having an synthetic-turf complex with a number of obtainable fields at Brewer Highschool located just off Interstate 395, a convenient spot for tournament-goers from any path.

“We envision – with the exception of the snow-cover months – to have some type of exercise on our complex every weekend of the year,” he stated.

Some events could possibly be staged collaboratively among a number of space venues.

“People aren’t packing their own lunches and dinners when they go to those tournaments, they’re coming in, spending the day and going to native companies,” Hampden Academy athletic administrator Fred Lower stated.

“When you include not simply Hampden however Greater Bangor and Brewer, there’s numerous locations you can go and some huge cash you’ll be able to spend at businesses and restaurants.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as chosen by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters…

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