Guest Column

Let There Be No Mistaking What Kind of Stadium This Is

By Steve Abbott, University of Maine Athletic Director

As our beloved Black Bear football team heads into battle for a play-off match-up with Appalachian State this weekend, it saddens me to learn that some people were pleased that we were not able to host a playoff game here in Orono.

These pundits have argued that we are not able to draw enough fans to be worthy of a home playoff game.  That is just an absurd media distortion. Let me ask you this: how come a few dozen protesters camped out next to a library is considered a “large” gathering, but a thousand people watching a football game is not?

A typical homecoming crowd at a University of Maine football game in Orono.

In Maine, we love our sports. To those who say we would not generate enough revenue to support a home play-off game, I say do not underestimate the ability of Maine sports fans to develop delusions of grandeur and unrealistic expectations about their teams.

We were raised on the Red Sox, after all.

Ask the average Maine fan their opinion of our quarterback, Warren Smith, and he’ll tell you he can’t understand why he’s not in the running for the Heisman Trophy.

The passion of the Maine football fan is undeniable. Wait… FANS.  I meant to say FANS.  Really.

Others have suggested that playing at home leaves the players open to more distractions. Those who hold this view are forgetting that there is not a damn thing for a student-athlete to do in Orono except get drunk and grope waitresses. Going on the road to Asheville, NC – a city larger than Portland – opens up a plethora of new opportunities for urban diversions for our boys. They might even get asked to sign some autographs, for example.

But I think there is another issue that hinders our efforts to host a home play-off game: the fact that there are apparently a lot of people who aren’t sure what our stadium is really for.

I find this surprising.  After all, we named the place “Harold Alfond Sports Stadium” to avoid any ambiguity about what goes on there. It’s not “Harold Alfond Knitting Stadium” or “Harold Alfond Pedophelia Stadium” or “Harold Alfond Meditation and Spiritual Healing Stadium.”

We could have just called it “Harold Alfond Stadium” to leave open the possibility for outdoor concerts and the like. But we wanted to send a clear message that this stadium is for sports, and by “sports,” we mean football, and occasionally some girls running around in skirts, smacking each other in the shins with sticks, or whatever the hell it is they do.

So take notice, NCAA play-off officials. This is a goddamn Sports Stadium, and don’t you forget it.

-30-

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this story implied that Appalachian State University is located in Asheville, NC.  This version does, too, because, let’s face it, that would be better for all concerned.

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