The CIF State Championship Football Bowl Games are going to change for next year, not only by expanding to five divisions, but with a potential new location as well.
First, let's look at the divisions.
It's a done deal that the bowls will expand from three divisions to five, but CIF executive director Marie Ishida shed a little more light on what those divisions are going to look like.
"We know there will be five games," Ishida said. "And it's pretty certain that one is going to be some sort of open division, followed by four enrollment-based divisions.
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"That one game is going to be the top overall team from the north against the top overall team from the south, regardless of enrollment."
Having four enrollment-based divisions could open up spots for more local teams.
Last season, Central Catholic became the first Stanislaus District team to play for a state title when it was named as the NorCal Division III representative. But with four divisions, Oakdale could have gone as well.
And next year, several local teams could be in that state bowl game mix again.
We don't know where those games will be played.
But we do know the seven sites that have put in bids to host the state championships: Carson's Home Depot Center, Los Angeles Coliseum, Bakersfield's Memorial Stadium, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, San Jose State, Stanford and UC Davis.
"We're happy so many sites placed bids," Ishida said. "In two years, this has become an event that the public is totally aware of."
It's too early to call one site a front-runner, but it's not going to stop us from speculating on them!
Home Depot Center (Carson): The site of the last two state championships is acknowledged as "a great place for us," by Ishida. The 27,000-capacity stadium allows the football games room to grow an audience, plus it has the nearby tennis facilities which host the supporting events, such as the state cheerleading championships.
But, Ishida said, Home Depot Center may price itself out of the running. It cost the CIF approximately $124,000 to rent the stadium for one day, and that is strictly building rental costs. The CIF still has to pay for team travel, its own employees and every other added-on expense.
"We love the Home Depot Center," Ishida said. "But we have to be cognizant of the cost, too."
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: The 92,000-capacity stadium is the current home of the USC Trojans football team, and hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. The Coliseum brings the most history of any of the seven sites. And seriously, how cool would it be to see the state high school football championships in the Coliseum?
But the Coliseum and Home Depot Center are the most expensive of the seven sites. And the Coliseum is so large, it would make even a crowd of 30,000 seem a little less significant.
Memorial Stadium (Bakersfield): The home of the Bakersfield College football team is an approximately 20,000-capacity stadium that has reported larger crowds than that over its history. Its central location -- plus, hotel prices are lower than anything in the Bay Area or Southern California -- makes it a prime candidate. The CIF has had success in Bakersfield with the state wrestling championships, so there's some familiarity with the city.
Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo: The college on the Central Coast is offering the newly renovated Alex G. Spanos Stadium, an 11,750-capacity facility that is in an idyllic setting among the Santa Lucia Mountains. The big drawbacks are its location -- every team would garner big travel expenses -- and it probably would need more seating if the bowl games continue to grow.
Stanford: Stanford Stadium was recently renovated, going from 85,000 to 50,000 capacity. This stadium has hosted World Cup games, San Francisco 49ers games and even the 1985 Super Bowl, so it has got a lot of history going for it. It's also close to the Bay Area airports and loads of hotels, although they can be expensive.
San Jose State: Spartan Stadium is a 30,578-capacity stadium that hosts San Jose State's football team and the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse. There has been talk of renovations (there are still some wooden seats in the stands) but so far, nothing yet.
UC Davis: The brand-new Aggie Stadium is the smallest of all the venues at 10,743 capacity. It has a grass berm on either side of the field capable of seating a few thousand more, but seating would be an issue. Aggie Stadium is the only one of the seven sites that has artificial turf. If you're going to play five football games in two days, one would think artificial turf would be a requirement.
CIF director of communications Emmy Zack said they hope to have a recommendation by the time the CIF executive committee meets on May 1. Until then, we'll have a couple of months to speculate about it. Sometimes, that's more fun than the actual announcement.
Will DeBoard's high schools column appears Thursdays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, write him at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352-5256, call 578-2300 or fax 238-4551.