PORTERVILLE — Discussion continues for moving all Central Section football championships to Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium — following a concept that’s been a huge hit in basketball at Selland Arena — but only this is known for sure: It won’t happen this season.
Further, consensus from the section’s annual athletic directors kickoff meeting at the Porterville Veterans Building on Tuesday indicated reality’s not close.
“Logistically, it’s a tangled mess,” said Jesse Hardwick, Sanger’s athletic director and chairman of the section’s football advisory committee. “I think it’s a great idea, I really do. We need to think outside the box to try and make this happen. But there are a lot of concerns for a lot of reasons.”
The hot spots in breaking the tradition of housing the six division finals at campus sites:
-- The multiple-division, two-day showcase at Bulldog Stadium would be played Dec. 6-7. But the Dec. 7 date wouldn’t be available if Fresno State hosts the Mountain Division championship, and that’s a potential conflict for years to come.
-- Resistance to moving the finals to the section’s north — Fresno/Clovis is already a permanent destination for cross country, basketball and track and field — remains firm from Kern County, said Hardwick and Bill Ver Huel, the section’s longtime South Area assistant commissioner.
-- A rotation of the football finals isn’t yet possible because section officials prefer not only large venues, but ones with artificial surface — imperative because of the two-day wear and potential weather problems. Bulldog Stadium has turf; Visalia’s Mineral King Bowl and Bakersfield College, for example, do not. If they did, Hardwick, said, “It would open up the discussion.”
-- Undecided is a revenue sharing plan for the centralization of football finals. And many schools, Hardwick said, are concerned with losing home-field gate, concessions and parking. Under the existing, campus-site system — after expenses — 40% of the ticket revenue goes to the section CIF office and 30% each to the participating schools.
In typical section protocol, a proposal — if favored — is forwarded from a sport advisory committee to the 35-member section Board of Managers, which reviews and votes.
But Hardwick said his coaches-based committee is still only in a preliminary discussion stage on the single-site football finals, awaiting more details.
Bob Kayajanian, former longtime president of the San Joaquin Valley Officials Association, is the driving force behind the Bulldog Stadium plan. On May 1, he made an impressive pitch to the Board of Managers, but that was before the conflicting date with Fresno State was even possible.
“And that really put the idea to a dead halt,” Hardwick said.
The eight-year basketball finals at Selland have flourished in all key phases -- experience for the players, experience for the fans and financially.
Fowler superintendent Eric Cederquist said he’d be more than willing to surrender a potential home-field final in that traditionally supportive community for what he values as the bottom line: “The experience for the kids. And the best experience for the kids is to play in those venues, like Selland.”
More section happenings
-- The Board of Managers will vote on single-site finals in football, girls volleyball and baseball in October. If approved, the volleyball and baseball plans could go into effect this school year, but the football not until 2014 “at the earliest,” section commissioner Jim Crichlow said.
-- The section has grown to 101 schools with the addition of the Southern Section imported High Desert League (Bishop, Kern Valley-Lake Isabella, Rosamond, Desert-Edwards Air Force Base, Frazier Mountain-Lebec and California City.
-- The section in 2012-13 enjoyed another banner year in playoffs revenue, exceeding projections with a total of $279,330, Crichlow said. That broke down to $166,330 in the fall, $68,000 in the winter and $45,000 in the spring.
-- The State CIF Girls Wrestling Championships have been moved to the Visalia Convention Center from Lemoore High, where the three-year event had “outgrown” the Tigers’ gym, section assistant commissioner Jeff Cardoza said. He also said the state plan is to have the girls join the boys finals at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena in a few years.
-- Marci Cranford, a 22-year teacher and coach at Kingsburg and a female pioneer in section athletic administration, has been voted onto the State CIF Executive Committee. She’s one of nine members, giving the Central Section added clout in issues that are recommended by that committee to the state’s final voting body -- the CIF Federated Council.
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