Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Postcards From The Road

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, travelers would send post cards back to family and friends with tales of their journeys, a penny a card. Sports facilities, of course, also drew interest, so when I spotted this early 20th century card on the web, it was worth a second look:

It's a early post card of Fitton Field, then the baseball and football home of the Holy Cross Crusaders, and near the site of Georgetown's 2009 season opener. Clearly, the site has undergone a few changes along the way, most notably a 1986 reconstruction that added aluminum seating to what was once an all-wood structure. But for the better part of a century, HC grads have grown up with the field as a part of their college experience, something that is somewhat foreign to Georgetown.

A look around this year's road stops introduces fans to a wide variety of stadia and amenities. With some 21st century photography (satelitte imagery), here's an introduction to the Hoyas' road venues this season:

Fitton Field (Holy Cross)
Capacity: 23,500
Date: September 5
The largest stadium in the PL doesn't have skyboxes or other modern amenities, but it's a comfortable place to watch a game, especially if you're wearing purple. HC has won nine straight against the Hoyas, the second longest streak by any Georgetown opponent. Its last sellout was in 1986 versus Boston College.

C. Mathewson-Memorial Stad. (Bucknell)
Capacity: 13,100
Date: October 3
A classic horseshoe design, it's among the most comfortable stadiums for fans and a great place for night games. The stadium holds the unusual distinction as the only road stadium in the PL where Georgetown has won twice--2005 and 2007. Can the Hoyas make it three in a row?

Goodman Stadium (Lehigh)
Capacity: 16,000
Date: October 10
This natural bowl in the shadow of South Mountain is the best stadium in the PL, and serves as the summer training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles. There may not be a more scenic stadium in Eastern football....but not to the Hoyas. In three games at Goodman, Georgetown teams have been outscored 160-14.

Foreman Field (Old Dominion)
Capacity: 20,748
Date: October 31
Still under construction when this photo was taken, the refurbished Foreman Field is expected to break a modern record for a Georgetown road game when a full house will be in force for a Halloween night game. ODU fans still remember its upset of the Hoyas in basketball two years ago, and are shooting for a football upset at well.

Tenney Stadium (Marist)
Capacity: 5,000
Date: November 7
I'm sure a few Georgetown fans look at these large stadia and say, "we can't do this". And then there's Marist, which tore down an obsolete 2,000 seat Leonidoff Field for a modern stadium along the Hudson that has brought new life to that program. Cost? $4 million. (And we can't do this?)

Finally, let's check the satellite to see what the Multi-Sport Field looks like from high up above. Ugh.

It's been four years since "Phase 1" debuted with temporary seats, a temporary scoreboard, and a sense that real progess was coming.

The 2005 team was a modest 4-7, 2-4 in the Patriot League, but Bernard Muir had higher expectations, and brought in a new era of Georgetown Football to go with the new building to come. The winning tradition isn't here yet. Neither is the building. Nor is the scoreboard.

As a reader, you can judge for yourself what the MSF says about Georgetown against some of the photos above. The temporary seats are still there, and so is the temporary scoreboard. Lots of broken ground for the bleachers that never were built, for the landscaping that never was. The New York Times wrote that "Centrally located on the picturesque Georgetown campus, which sits on a hill overlooking Washington and Virginia, the finished field would be surrounded by campus buildings and dormitories. [Athletic director Bernard] Muir predicted that the new, bowl-like stadium would be “one of the best game-day environments in our league.” That was written two years ago, and nothing has changed.

"The Multi-Sport Field is a metaphor for where things stand at Georgetown," said student association president Ben Shaw. "We’re halfway there.”

Be it ever so humble.