Debut night at Skippa Diaz Stadium made for an electric atmosphere, though discerning fans — particularly on Farrington’s side of the field — seemed patient with their talented, but young squad.
First, a sprinkling of football.
> Kamehameha was the young, green team last season, gaining valuable game reps. Now they’re a year older, wiser, stronger, faster and it’s Farrington that is enduring growing pains. That was the biggest difference tonight. That and Kamehameha’s team speed on defense.
> The mauka-makai alignment of the field makes the trade winds a major factor — similar to the conditions at Kaiser Stadium. Kickoffs and punts into the wind hang and hit an invisible wall, which means rugby-style low kicks would be more effective. Like golfers facing headwinds and crosswinds at Kaanapali. Low wins.
Here’s more on the rest of opening night at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
> Farrington fans can now walk to home games instead of commuting to Roosevelt. There had been plans for a parking garage on campus, but that’s on the back-burner. Replacing the long-unused swimming pool with a new gym is higher up the priority list. Hopefully, tennis courts will be atop that parking garage sometime soon, perhaps in the next decade? In the meantime, nearby Damien Memorial High School and Kalakaua Middle School offer parking for a modest price.
> The Governors band, as usual, is large, loud and stylin’. They play tunes straight off the radio. Instead of sitting with the rest of the audience — as it was set up at Roosevelt — the band is now seated across Farrington’s home bleachers. The band sits on the mauka side of the visitors’ bleachers, which are no more than 4 feet above ground level and could prove to be an advantage for the Govs. Lord knows Castle’s band used to work its volume for all it was worth.
> Soda is bad for you. And now it’ll cost $3 for a can if you’re at a Govs home game. The shave ice, at $4, is a better deal. The homemade lychee syrup is highly recommended.
> T-shirts, caps, visors and hoodies are at the vendor booths on the mauka side of the home bleachers. The fried noodles ($5) and Spam bowl ($5) are recommended.
> Entry is at two spots: Houghtailing Street near the freeway — all the better for spectators who park at Damien — and King Street behind the auditorium.
> Between JV and varsity, it’s possible that the attendance count was 4,700, which is one unofficial estimate I heard after the game. Adult admission is $8 and student is $5. They also opened back side lots and the front lawn for paid parking.
Even if one-third of the attendance were kids under 12 (free), that’s at least 3,200 paid. Multiply that by maybe an average of $6.50 each… that’s $20,800. Not counting concessions. Vendor fees? In preseason, the revenue stays home. Regular season, it goes to the OIA.
I wonder if Kamehameha gets a piece of the pie. It’s a win-win situation for Farrington, which, like all public-school athletic programs, can always use a boost financially. Is it any wonder that scheduling preseason football games can be vital to any athletic program’s bottom line?
All in all, the vibe of a clash of two Division I powerhouses in the Honolulu district always has a unique feel. Crowds are generally much bigger. Expectations can be immense, even in the first preseason game. Since Roosevelt became entrenched in D-II, the only D-I games that carried heavyweight clout — remember Farrington’s upset of them-No. 1 Kahuku? — were Govs games. And the occasional ‘Iolani, Kamehameha or Punahou home game.
Football in the heart of Kalihi is a beautiful thing. Even for those who aren’t Farrington alums, this is beyond exotic. This is giddyville. Happy happy, joy joy. And to think of the generations of talent that never got to play a game on campus, the coaches who always boarded the bus with their players for home games — there are smiles. There’s a lump in the throat.
The flag waves next to a sparkly new scoreboard. Lights are turning on at the corner of North King and Houghtailing. The future is so bright.