The games hadn’t even been played yet, and already the question was being asked.
If Bangor and Brewer both won their semifinals Saturday, would the Maine Principals’ Association consider moving Wednesday’s Eastern Maine Class A baseball title game between the two rivals from Augusta to Bangor?
To me, supposing such an eventuality at that point was inviting bad karma, but the scenario turned out to be true and now the question is legitimate.
The precedent has been set, beginning with the move of the 2005 Oxford Hills-Edward Little baseball final from Bangor to Morton Field in Augusta that ultimately led to the Eastern A baseball and softball title game being scheduled for the Capital City every year.
There is a Wednesday afternoon time slot available for a Bangor-Brewer game at Mansfield Stadium, where the Class C regional final between Bucksport and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill is scheduled for 6:30 that evening.
But before settling to focus on the seemingly obvious geographic considerations that logically would suggest moving the Bangor-Brewer game north, here are a few other factors to consider.
Does Brewer want to play Bangor on Bangor’s home field, Mansfield Stadium? Or if the game is moved, should it be played on a neutral field in the area such as Husson University or the University of Maine?
Certainly Brewer players have their own level of familiarity with Mansfield Stadium from years of games against Bangor at the youth and high school levels, but it is the Rams’ true home.
The Bangor softball team also will be playing in a regional final Wednesday against Messalonskee of Oakland, and that game is set to be played at Cony High School in Augusta.
The current schedule allows Bangor fans to attend both the 5 p.m. baseball game and 7 p.m. softball game, but moving the baseball game would force those fans to choose between the two championship contests — likely to the considerable detriment of the softball crowd.
Championship game sites are established well in advance to allow those who work on the various fields sufficient preparation time as well as for game staff to be assembled and concessions to be procured.
And given how Eastern Maine Class A is reflected on a map these days, the vast majority of those schools are closer to Augusta than Bangor, thus the rationale for scheduling regional baseball and softball finals in Augusta.
There are enough different elements at play not to make this potential switch automatic, including the potential clamor for similar requests in the future.
Consider next winter’s Class AA North basketball tournament and how the Portland schools are going to feel about driving past the Expo and the Cross Insurance Arena to play in Augusta?
Or think about the Class C and Class D soccer state finals that will be played in Aroostook County for the first time this fall?
Having this year’s games on the artificial turf at the Gehrig T. Johnson Athletic Complex in Presque Isle as part of an occasional rotational basis is a more than reasonable if not overdue accommodation to the northern schools who have driven thousands of miles south over the years to compete for state championships, often at a distinct disadvantage beyond the mere mileage.
I remember not so long ago, 2010 to be exact, when the Caribou girls soccer team traveled to its state championship game at Falmouth High School — to play Falmouth.
But think of the clamor that’s going to come from teams traveling in the opposite direction, particularly if the fields for those those games are similar to last year, when the Fort Kent and Ashland girls represented the County but the rest of the C and D championship-game teams came from the Bangor area to as far south as Sacopee Valley High School in York County.
Personally I’d love the Bangor-Brewer Eastern A baseball final to be played in the Bangor-Brewer area because I think the fans would turn out in much greater numbers than if faced with the 70-mile drive south, thus adding to the championship experience.
But from where I come from, the trip is lengthy either way.