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Neutral Semi-States - the challenges


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It's spring cleaning time in our house, so I thought I would avoid that by dusting off an old discussion.

Neutral semi-state football games, something I might support if done correctly, of would pose some logistical challenges.  Here are a few observations I noticed last weekend and this weekend with the basketball tournament. 

1. It's amazing how much the IHSAA can mandate when they want.  Regional and semi-state basketball games have to be on Saturday, and more specifically, the times the games are played.  Both Evansville North and Evansville Bosse had their regional games tip-off at 9:30 Central.  Perhaps Triton Central and Ev Mater Dei are an exception, but why do they let gamesmanship prevail in football?  And yes I'm well aware Regional is a 2 game event which requires the morning sessions, but still the time is set and there is no switching. 

2.  The semi-state sites were set before the season.  If you are going to do neutral sites, they need to be set pre-season, IMO.  They didn't choose Seymour this weekend because it happens to be close to halfway between Eastern Hancock and Clarksville Providence. That location was predetermined and the midpoint just happened by coincidence.

3.  Lafayette Central Catholic gets to play at nearby Lafayette Jeff.  However North Daviess could have played 15 minutes away at Washington, but instead have to travel to Seymour.  There is always the possibility that a "neutral site" is much closer to one school than the other.

4. This is the biggest one, IMO.  Washington and Seymour both lost in the second round of sectional on a Friday night.  Two weeks later they are hosting semi-state.  Not a long of time, especially since they also hosted Regional in between.  The football equivalent for 2021 would be for your team to lose on Oct. 29th and host a semi-state on November 19th.  If they lose first round, it would be Oct. 22, and you would still need to keep your field ready for 4 weeks to host.  In the meantime, the athletics department has played 4 girls basketball games before Nov. 19th.  The advantage for basketball is that there might be practices for spring sports going on, but there are minimal contests (gymnastics and indoor track being the exceptions) during the first 2 weeks of March.

I am for the idea.  But I think these issues are why it probably won't happen IMO. 

 

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49 minutes ago, oldtimeqb said:

It's spring cleaning time in our house, so I thought I would avoid that by dusting off an old discussion.

Neutral semi-state football games, something I might support if done correctly, of would pose some logistical challenges.  Here are a few observations I noticed last weekend and this weekend with the basketball tournament. 

1. It's amazing how much the IHSAA can mandate when they want.  Regional and semi-state basketball games have to be on Saturday, and more specifically, the times the games are played.  Both Evansville North and Evansville Bosse had their regional games tip-off at 9:30 Central.  Perhaps Triton Central and Ev Mater Dei are an exception, but why do they let gamesmanship prevail in football?  And yes I'm well aware Regional is a 2 game event which requires the morning sessions, but still the time is set and there is no switching. 

2.  The semi-state sites were set before the season.  If you are going to do neutral sites, they need to be set pre-season, IMO.  They didn't choose Seymour this weekend because it happens to be close to halfway between Eastern Hancock and Clarksville Providence. That location was predetermined and the midpoint just happened by coincidence.

3.  Lafayette Central Catholic gets to play at nearby Lafayette Jeff.  However North Daviess could have played 15 minutes away at Washington, but instead have to travel to Seymour.  There is always the possibility that a "neutral site" is much closer to one school than the other.

4. This is the biggest one, IMO.  Washington and Seymour both lost in the second round of sectional on a Friday night.  Two weeks later they are hosting semi-state.  Not a long of time, especially since they also hosted Regional in between.  The football equivalent for 2021 would be for your team to lose on Oct. 29th and host a semi-state on November 19th.  If they lose first round, it would be Oct. 22, and you would still need to keep your field ready for 4 weeks to host.  In the meantime, the athletics department has played 4 girls basketball games before Nov. 19th.  The advantage for basketball is that there might be practices for spring sports going on, but there are minimal contests (gymnastics and indoor track being the exceptions) during the first 2 weeks of March.

I am for the idea.  But I think these issues are why it probably won't happen IMO. 

 

Is it a question of venue as opposed to just location?  Jeff has been a "landing place" for basketball tourneys and post-season play.  Similarly, I get the impression, when the IHSAA sets some of the regionals/sectionals etc. for baseball, it's as much about the venue as anything else.  With that said, I'm merely asking as opposed to passing judgement on Washington's facilities vs. Seymour's as I'm not familiar with either school's facilities. 

I think the other issue with football, as you pointed out, is the aspect of maintenance up to the semi-state; especially among smaller schools.  The cost to most 1A/2A and possibly 3A/4A of maintaining non-turf fields for two or three extra weeks would probably make it not worth hosting.  The argument nowadays is that, at least if you go somewhere where the field is in disrepair for football post-season, it's kind of "baked-in" to the equation that you take what you get.  If we went to neutral fields, there would HAVE to be, or at least should be, an expectation of a certainly level of amenities, field condition, etc.  That expectation would probably take several schools out of WANTING to be  considered.  Obviously, turf fields make it easier for the maintenance, but there are even some turf fields that might be, arguably, better turf fields to play on post season than others.  I suspect there would be much more grousing if the state went to neutral sites and field conditions/amenities were, within reason, less-than-stellar.  It's kind of like $1 beer night at the local dive.  No one asks what label it is and, even if it tastes like paint thinner and is sometimes warm, there will be little complaining.  At $8 a glass, the expectation is ice cold and name-brand.

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6 minutes ago, foxbat said:

Is it a question of venue as opposed to just location?  Jeff has been a "landing place" for basketball tourneys and post-season play.  Similarly, I get the impression, when the IHSAA sets some of the regionals/sectionals etc. for baseball, it's as much about the venue as anything else.  With that said, I'm merely asking as opposed to passing judgement on Washington's facilities vs. Seymour's as I'm not familiar with either school's facilities. 

I think the other issue with football, as you pointed out, is the aspect of maintenance up to the semi-state; especially among smaller schools.  The cost to most 1A/2A and possibly 3A/4A of maintaining non-turf fields for two or three extra weeks would probably make it not worth hosting.  The argument nowadays is that, at least if you go somewhere where the field is in disrepair for football post-season, it's kind of "baked-in" to the equation that you take what you get.  If we went to neutral fields, there would HAVE to be, or at least should be, an expectation of a certainly level of amenities, field condition, etc.  That expectation would probably take several schools out of WANTING to be  considered.  Obviously, turf fields make it easier for the maintenance, but there are even some turf fields that might be, arguably, better turf fields to play on post season than others.  I suspect there would be much more grousing if the state went to neutral sites and field conditions/amenities were, within reason, less-than-stellar.  It's kind of like $1 beer night at the local dive.  No one asks what label it is and, even if it tastes like paint thinner and is sometimes warm, there will be little complaining.  At $8 a glass, the expectation is ice cold and name-brand.

It's my understanding the AD's submit packages to host Sectionals, Regionals, Semi-States in Basketball.. Certainly seating as well as probably many other things are taken into account when this occurs.  It could be done with Football... Semi-State hosts to have plenty of seating & a turf field.  Little to no maintenance (at least not additional unless there is a snow storm).  Track hosts have to have at least an 8 lane track.. Why couldn't it be mandated that Semi-State hosts have to have Turf?

Good points by both @foxbat& @oldtimeqb

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2 minutes ago, 1st_and_10 said:

It's my understanding the AD's submit packages to host Sectionals, Regionals, Semi-States in Basketball.. Certainly seating as well as probably many other things are taken into account when this occurs.  It could be done with Football... Semi-State hosts to have plenty of seating & a turf field.  Little to no maintenance (at least not additional unless there is a snow storm).  Track hosts have to have at least an 8 lane track.. Why couldn't it be mandated that Semi-State hosts have to have Turf?

Good points by both @foxbat& @oldtimeqb

I think it could be, but it could also take out some smaller schools that might be willing to go through that maintenance or have nicer grass fields.  I know that LCC's baseball field is a nice grass field for a 1A/2A school.  The football field also holds up remarkably well for a grass field.  For 1A/2A contests, I think it would be OK with parking ... although, historically, they have had to do grass parking for Pioneer and the re-start game against West Lafayette. 

My other concern for a turf requirements, and I'd probably need to take a look at @crimsonace1's map that he created for more clarity, is are there some 1A/2A schools that aren't close by some of those 6A/5A turf schools.  It might be six-one-way, half-dozen-the-other on travel since they might be playing someone on the other end of the north or south part of the state, but at least in that travel component one gets to be home. 

I'd be interested in whether there's a difference in that thought process for smaller schools vs. larger schools too.  Before I moved to Indy, I was a big-school football bigot.  I came from a school in Texas that would be 6A classification in Indiana and would be top 10 in Indiana by enrollment.  While home field was nice, being on the road wasn't really on the player's minds except in maybe a handful of schools.  Since coming to Indiana, I've absolutely fallen in love with small-school ball and learned A LOT about the character across the classes and it seems to me, solely my opinion though with no statistical data behind it, that home field plays more in the psyche for smaller schools than larger on average.  Sagarin has, for the last few years, provided less than 2 points advantage for home field ... last year it was just 1.28 for the whole state.   I wonder if that's really evenly-distributed across the classes or, like I saw with big schools, at least in Texas, not that big a thing, but maybe much more for smaller class ball.  Might that have an impact in which classes or programs all-out embrace neutral semi-state fields vs. those that are going to look much more at cost-benefit?

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I understand that there are challenges. There are challenges to everything. But these things can be done. Have certain schools apply for the year on hosting. Make the application deadline be August. Choose the host school for different semi state games based off of which teams are playing. Simple way to have a neutral site. Not that difficult of a science.

Just now, Indiana Fan said:

I understand that there are challenges. There are challenges to everything. But these things can be done. Have certain schools apply for the year on hosting. Make the application deadline be August. Choose the host school for different semi state games based off of which teams are playing. Simple way to have a neutral site. Not that difficult of a science.

There can be multiple hosts. This will give different stadiums for different classes and provide locations that would not be too far of a drive for one school compared to the other.

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35 minutes ago, 1st_and_10 said:

It's my understanding the AD's submit packages to host Sectionals, Regionals, Semi-States in Basketball.. Certainly seating as well as probably many other things are taken into account when this occurs.  It could be done with Football... Semi-State hosts to have plenty of seating & a turf field.  Little to no maintenance (at least not additional unless there is a snow storm).  Track hosts have to have at least an 8 lane track.. Why couldn't it be mandated that Semi-State hosts have to have Turf?

I would agree sufficient seating and turf would be minimum requirements.  I knew there was some sort of package/bid process for NCAA basketball tournament venues, so it makes sense there is a similar thing for IHSAA.  Thanks for that clarification.

And @foxbat - yes. Washington and Seymour both have gyms with seating capacity somewhere around 8,000 fans.  Which is why I'm sure they were chosen.  I wouldn't be able to find Chesterton on a map and I think I know where Elkhart is - sorry for my regional bias using south of Indy examples. 

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46 minutes ago, oldtimeqb said:

I would agree sufficient seating and turf would be minimum requirements.  I knew there was some sort of package/bid process for NCAA basketball tournament venues, so it makes sense there is a similar thing for IHSAA.  Thanks for that clarification.

And @foxbat - yes. Washington and Seymour both have gyms with seating capacity somewhere around 8,000 fans.  Which is why I'm sure they were chosen.  I wouldn't be able to find Chesterton on a map and I think I know where Elkhart is - sorry for my regional bias using south of Indy examples. 

Chesterton is in my neck of the woods.  Without looking it up, i would guess *maybe* Elkhart would be a bit closer, but cheese is close to major highways.

last year, the ihsaa sent gary west side and kouts to jeff.

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2 hours ago, foxbat said:

I think the other issue with football, as you pointed out, is the aspect of maintenance up to the semi-state; especially among smaller schools.  The cost to most 1A/2A and possibly 3A/4A of maintaining non-turf fields for two or three extra weeks would probably make it not worth hosting.  

It's not that hard.

Forest Gump Mowing GIF - Forest Gump Mowing Relaxation GIFs

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2 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

It's not that hard.

Forest Gump Mowing GIF - Forest Gump Mowing Relaxation GIFs

what about a field that gets destroyed due to playing in extremely sloppy conditions, repairing these fields in the offseason can have a significant cost. 

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47 minutes ago, Cappy said:

what about a field that gets destroyed due to playing in extremely sloppy conditions, repairing these fields in the offseason can have a significant cost. 

Part of the challenge and character of the game.  You have to remember the origins of football were in rugby, which was designed to be a simulation of war.  The battlefield, aka, the football field, could be a nice mowed surface or pockmarked mudhole.    Helps coaching staffs and players to be prepared.  Unfortunately  there are those who want to eliminate any variable they can from the game,  and the growth of artificial turf is one of the results.

 

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10 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

Part of the challenge and character of the game.  You have to remember the origins of football were in rugby, which was designed to be a simulation of war.  The battlefield, aka, the football field, could be a nice mowed surface or pockmarked mudhole.    Helps coaching staffs and players to be prepared.  Unfortunately  there are those who want to eliminate any variable they can from the game,  and the growth of artificial turf is one of the results.

 

I understand the love for a good ol sloppy field and muddy uniforms, what about the cost to repair those neutral sites when there grass is destroyed and field rutted up. Believe that is why a school willing to host would have to have turf. 

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16 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Part of the challenge and character of the game.  You have to remember the origins of football were in rugby, which was designed to be a simulation of war.  The battlefield, aka, the football field, could be a nice mowed surface or pockmarked mudhole.    Helps coaching staffs and players to be prepared.  Unfortunately  there are those who want to eliminate any variable they can from the game,  and the growth of artificial turf is one of the results.

 

This is the most apt phrase I've ever heard to describe Pioneer's football field. When we played North Judson week 9 we lost a couple of Freshmen in the divots 😂

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16 hours ago, Cappy said:

I understand the love for a good ol sloppy field and muddy uniforms, what about the cost to repair those neutral sites when there grass is destroyed and field rutted up. Believe that is why a school willing to host would have to have turf. 

If the cost to repair a high school football field is that prohibitive then don't host the game. It is that simple.   Or maybe host a bake sale or spaghetti dinner night where all the proceeds to go into the football field repair fund.

 

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19 hours ago, 1st_and_10 said:

It's my understanding the AD's submit packages to host Sectionals, Regionals, Semi-States in Basketball.. Certainly seating as well as probably many other things are taken into account when this occurs.  It could be done with Football... Semi-State hosts to have plenty of seating & a turf field.  Little to no maintenance (at least not additional unless there is a snow storm).  Track hosts have to have at least an 8 lane track.. Why couldn't it be mandated that Semi-State hosts have to have Turf?

Good points by both @foxbat& @oldtimeqb

ADs definitely submit "packages" to host sectionals, regionals and semi-states, but that doesn't ensure anything.  Back in my AD days, sectional host sites were selected by the sectional teams, then regional and semi-state host sites were selected by the IHSAA. (Schools had to submit their interest to host regional and semi-state.) My school was strong in basketball so we frequently went to regional, which bounced back between 2 host sites. Everyone agreed one site was much better than the other, but the IHSAA always wanted the other site to host. 

There is definitely an economic piece that must be evaluated for basketball.  What is there to do in the city, lodging, restaurants etc.  This is less important in football as it would only be one day.  What happens if the host is still playing do they get a home game?  Also do 4A, 5A and 6A schools want to let 1A , 2A and 3A schools play at their facility?  Will the host site recuperate any losses?  I feel like there are a lot of questions.  And because we don't seed the tournament yet, maybe we should start there.

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17 minutes ago, Coach_K said:

ADs definitely submit "packages" to host sectionals, regionals and semi-states, but that doesn't ensure anything.  Back in my AD days, sectional host sites were selected by the sectional teams, then regional and semi-state host sites were selected by the IHSAA. (Schools had to submit their interest to host regional and semi-state.) My school was strong in basketball so we frequently went to regional, which bounced back between 2 host sites. Everyone agreed one site was much better than the other, but the IHSAA always wanted the other site to host. 

There is definitely an economic piece that must be evaluated for basketball.  What is there to do in the city, lodging, restaurants etc.  This is less important in football as it would only be one day.  What happens if the host is still playing do they get a home game?  Also do 4A, 5A and 6A schools want to let 1A , 2A and 3A schools play at their facility?  Will the host site recuperate any losses?  I feel like there are a lot of questions.  And because we don't seed the tournament yet, maybe we should start there.

Yes, much like basketball there could be a chance that you play a Semi-State home game.  As for 4-6A wanting to let smaller schools play at their facility... Not sure the difference is if a 1A school is playing basketball at Seymour vs a 1A football team playing there?  We also don't seed the basketball tourney either.  Not sure what "losses" the host school would have (unless you are talking about a torn up field)?  

There are a lot of questions, I agree... But I don't understand that thoughts of we do it in basketball and not football... 

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14 minutes ago, 1st_and_10 said:

Yes, much like basketball there could be a chance that you play a Semi-State home game.  As for 4-6A wanting to let smaller schools play at their facility... Not sure the difference is if a 1A school is playing basketball at Seymour vs a 1A football team playing there?  We also don't seed the basketball tourney either.  Not sure what "losses" the host school would have (unless you are talking about a torn up field)?  

There are a lot of questions, I agree... But I don't understand that thoughts of we do it in basketball and not football... 

For Basketball, there are 2 or 3 games at one host site.  With football there would only be one game.  If a school doesn't draw much crowd, bad weather, etc. the host school could be on the hook for costs including the cost of tearing up a field (although if turf not likely).  

I am just trying to play devil's advocate.

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3 minutes ago, Coach_K said:

 

For Basketball, there are 2 or 3 games at one host site.  With football there would only be one game.  If a school doesn't draw much crowd, bad weather, etc. the host school could be on the hook for costs including the cost of tearing up a field (although if turf not likely).  

I am just trying to play devil's advocate.

Good points. Again, speaking in hypotheticals since these are things we would probably never see - why not 2 games on a Saturday like basketball?  You would need 2 more sites (6 vs 4) so it's 3 North and 3 South.  That could add to burden though, as 2 basketball games can be done in about 3-3.5 hours, which is the time length allowed for 1  state final game.  Getting workers (even if paid) for a 7 hour shift might be harder.

I could see a scenario where 2A Ev Mater Dei plays semi-state at "neutral" Reitz (4A) Bowl.  However, the odds of that would still be less than the current 50-50 shot to host a SS game under the current model for a team that advances that far.   

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14 minutes ago, oldtimeqb said:

Good points. Again, speaking in hypotheticals since these are things we would probably never see - why not 2 games on a Saturday like basketball?  You would need 2 more sites (6 vs 4) so it's 3 North and 3 South.  That could add to burden though, as 2 basketball games can be done in about 3-3.5 hours, which is the time length allowed for 1  state final game.  Getting workers (even if paid) for a 7 hour shift might be harder.

I think it would be cool to do the 2 games, and my solution would be at the college fields.  Sure you might not get IU or PU, but there are a lot of smaller schools ISU, Butler, Ball State, not to mention D2, D3 and NAIA schools. 

Obviously, this would be dependent on their seasons/playoffs as well.

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Forgot a sentence.
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50 minutes ago, Coach_K said:

I think it would be cool to do the 2 games, and my solution would be at the college fields.  Sure you might not get IU or PU, but there are a lot of smaller schools ISU, Butler, Ball State, not to mention D2, D3 and NAIA schools. 

Obviously, this would be dependent on their seasons/playoffs as well.

High school fields would be cheaper since you wouldn't need to rent the field. That might be a thought. Also, some capacities of small college fields might be under what some high schools in Indy could provide.

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Love to see turf college fields that can be close to halfway for each participant. Ohio has little issues finding HS turf fields that are halfway points or close to it. I believe they all bid or request to host a playoff game or games in the preseason. I'd love for regional and semi state games to be neutral locations. Sectionals to be seeded with home field advantage to higher seeded teams. It would make the regular season even more valuable. (Determining seeds could be difficult.)

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If this so difficult, why do so many states have neutral site tournament games.    Ohio plays every tournament game at a neutral site.    In addition to neutral sites, the games need to be played on Saturday with a double-header format.    Saturday allows for more time for travel, driving in daylight and in November, normally warmer weather.

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4 minutes ago, whiteshoes said:

If this so difficult, why do so many states have neutral site tournament games.    Ohio plays every tournament game at a neutral site.    In addition to neutral sites, the games need to be played on Saturday with a double-header format.    Saturday allows for more time for travel, driving in daylight and in November, normally warmer weather.

I believe Ohio does not go to neutral sites until Week 2. Higher seeded team gets a home game in Week 1. Ping pong balls are not involved. 😂

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On 3/15/2022 at 12:27 PM, foxbat said:

I think it could be, but it could also take out some smaller schools that might be willing to go through that maintenance or have nicer grass fields.  I know that LCC's baseball field is a nice grass field for a 1A/2A school.  The football field also holds up remarkably well for a grass field.  For 1A/2A contests, I think it would be OK with parking ... although, historically, they have had to do grass parking for Pioneer and the re-start game against West Lafayette. 

My other concern for a turf requirements, and I'd probably need to take a look at @crimsonace1's map that he created for more clarity, is are there some 1A/2A schools that aren't close by some of those 6A/5A turf schools.  It might be six-one-way, half-dozen-the-other on travel since they might be playing someone on the other end of the north or south part of the state, but at least in that travel component one gets to be home. 

I'd be interested in whether there's a difference in that thought process for smaller schools vs. larger schools too.  Before I moved to Indy, I was a big-school football bigot.  I came from a school in Texas that would be 6A classification in Indiana and would be top 10 in Indiana by enrollment.  While home field was nice, being on the road wasn't really on the player's minds except in maybe a handful of schools.  Since coming to Indiana, I've absolutely fallen in love with small-school ball and learned A LOT about the character across the classes and it seems to me, solely my opinion though with no statistical data behind it, that home field plays more in the psyche for smaller schools than larger on average.  Sagarin has, for the last few years, provided less than 2 points advantage for home field ... last year it was just 1.28 for the whole state.   I wonder if that's really evenly-distributed across the classes or, like I saw with big schools, at least in Texas, not that big a thing, but maybe much more for smaller class ball.  Might that have an impact in which classes or programs all-out embrace neutral semi-state fields vs. those that are going to look much more at cost-benefit?

As the father of boys who played Texas small-school ball (2A in a 1A-6A state & 2A being the smallest 11-man schools) I agree with this statement, and remembering back to my days playing ball in Indiana for what was then a 2A school, the same would have been true - if we had ever made it deep into post season.  I believe our kids would def have had a mental advantage.

But..... The only time our small schools ever got to play on a big, modern field was post season.  Our 2A kids out there on a 4A-6A field with turf, plenty of seating, fancy scoreboard (some with jumbotron), high-end sound system, professional announcer, nice locker rooms, good lighting.  They felt like they had hit the big time.  Plus both teams get penalized about the same with regards to long bus rides, etc.  There are a handful of small schools here that have top shelf facilities, but typically they're the perennial powerhouses or have a power plant in their back yard.  So for us small guys the neutral (fancy/modern/cool) site is a sizeable bonus.

There's no shortage of big schools who don't make the playoffs, yes I know different from Indiana, that have a nice facility.  But by the time you guys get to regional/semi's I would think you would have options.  Also, not sure how they do it here, but I've heard the host school gets some cut from the night's takings after the UIL (Texas' IHSAA).  One thing I've never heard in nine years of h.s. football was logistic problems.  I realize Indiana is a much smaller state, but still by the time the last couple weeks roll around, most everyone's been eliminated.

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