Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
It's probably time for a proper football practice facility.
EagleMarketing recently put together a video feature touring the Boston College Alumni Stadium bubble. Did you know?
-- It takes 4 days and over 100 staff members to put up the bubble
-- The bubble occupies 2,500 athletes annually
-- All 31 varsity sports, intramurals and clubs use the bubble
-- The bubble stays up for 4 months out of the year
-- The bubble is open 6 a.m. - 1 a.m. daily
Given all the above, the practice bubble seems far too over-subscribed. I'm not sure having the football program share the Alumni Stadium bubble with 30 other varsity programs, intramurals leagues and club programs is a sustainable model. The question I have is has the bubble outlived its usefulness as Boston College football's indoor practice facility?
The program desperately needs its own dedicated practice facility if it hopes to keep up with the rest of the conference in the ever-escalating college football arms race. The new Yawkey Center is great and all, but BC's football facilities continue to lag behind the rest of the ACC.
The problem? There's nowhere to build a proper football indoor facility. Shea Field? The school's long-term Institutional Master Plan (IMP) calls for a Beacon Street garage extension and undergraduate housing on what is today Shea Field. No luck on Upper, Brighton or Newton Campuses either.
Instead of the bubble, what if Alumni and the 2 1/2 football fields planned for in the IMP could be enclosed by a dome? If the roof (either retractable or permanent) could extend over Alumni, the Beacon Street Garage and the football practice fields, the school would more than double the available space for athletics programs looking for indoor practice facility space during the winter months. Football could make the now enclosed Shea Field football practice fields home while the other BC sports programs could continue to use the Stadium.
A domed Alumni Stadium could also better insulate the program from the per-game football attendance ebbs and flows of playing games in inclement weather (see also: 14,682 announced attendance for the 2006 Buffalo game, 40,065 for the 2007 Florida State game when BC was #2 IN THE NATION!) The home crowd could also get appreciably louder with a roof keeping noise in, which, win-win with the Newtonians. The structure could also be used during more than 6-7 Saturdays a year. Think: outdoor college hockey (so long, Fenway) and NCAA Tournament soccer, lacrosse and field hockey games.
That said, football would be trading in one of their home field advantages -- playing in the elements, in November, in New England -- with a move to an enclosed football stadium. Something about playing in a dome seems un-BC like, too.
Still, this might just be an idea worth floating to new A.D. Brad Bates in the next football town hall. That is, after the more important questions are answered such as where in the world are we tailgating after Shea Field springs undergrad housing and the Mods are torn down and replaced with a University center, an academic building, more housing and the 'Plex replacement.