With the unveiling of the new sports facility at Canandaigua Academy, maybe now is the time to move all football games to Braves Field
Now that this whole Braves Field thing is official, it’s the end of football at Evans Field, right?
Not exactly. But maybe it’s time that it is.
Canandaigua Academy on Thursday officially unveiled its new $13.4 million athletic facility. It was the formal cap on what’s been no less than 10 years of work, planning and dreaming among school officials and community members.
When you walk into the new stadium, it’s a striking view. It’s strong, sturdy, impressive and mighty. Everything you’d expect from a new build.
But considering where it is (Canandaigua) and what it’s up against (tradition and history), the question is obvious: Who builds a $13.4 million facility and doesn’t use it?
Exactly. Canandaigua built it, and they will come. That’s not the problem. The problem is when tradition butts heads with changing times, and that much was evident just a few short years ago when the hot-button issue around town was the very idea that football games no longer be played at Evans Field.
At the time, the discussion was just that. Talk. Because ground had yet to be broken for a new stadium. But today, that stadium is a reality and it’s ready to roll. So now what?
The 2017 schedule has five home games for CA. The Sept. 2 opener against Webster Thomas will be played at Evans with the traditional 2 p.m. kickoff. And on Oct. 14, the 2 p.m. kickoff is the Homecoming game against Eastridge.
Between those games, however, are three other home games. Two are set for Friday nights and another on a Thursday. All 7 p.m. starts.
So the Saturday afternoon football tradition in Canandaigua isn’t deleted. Just muted a bit. Can we now expect an uproar from those who hold tradition dear? Perhaps. And really, can we fault them?
Whether you’ve been to Evans Field for one game or 100, you know how unique it is. It’s surrounded by homes. You park on the street. You’ve heard the band and seen the floats come up Main Street and down Fort Hill Ave. for Homecoming. And you’ve seen families and friends in their backyards surrounding the field, standing on platforms they’ve built to watch the games.
It’s a sports scene you’re really not going to see anywhere else in this area. This is what makes it unique and it’s also what makes giving up on tradition so difficult. If you’re a CA graduate, Evans Field is yours and why would you want to give that up?
Since at least 1949, Evans Field has been home to the Braves. That makes the coming season the 68th year of football on Fort Hill and by any measure, that’s a long, long time. But you know what? Football has been played at CA since 1888, which means even Evans Field was new at one point.
So with a hesitant nod, maybe it’s time to start new traditions and move all CA football games to the new stadium. No more bussing the players from the Academy to Fort Hill. No more lugging the CA Sound gear back and forth. No more struggles for fan parking. And in this day and age, how fiscally responsible is it for taxpayer funds to maintain two football facilities for one school?
At the new facility, there is plenty of parking. Locker rooms are right there, and the surface is playable no matter the weather. Kickoff at 7 p.m. is easier for families and parents, and weekend trips and yardwork get all your attention on Saturday and Sunday (for better or worse).
But more important, this facility was built for the student athletes. Let them call it home, for everything. Plenty of today’s athletes at CA have respect for the history of Evans Field, but the excitement of playing in a new facility is even stronger.
Tradition is great, but really, for whom is that tradition dearest? It’s for people who no longer play there, and rightly so. They left part of their soul on that field and that’s not an easy goodbye.
But at some point, the end of Evans Field will come. And to be sure, there is no plan at CA right now to phase out Evans Field. Splitting the season between the sites isn’t part of some plan to ease the transition by eventually having all football games at the new stadium. CA plans to stay for football, and baseball.
But again, the time will come. So why not make it now? The sooner the switch is made, the sooner the new traditions begin.
Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @MPN_bchavez