Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill will likely host three Section 1 high school football championship games next month, Section 1 football chairperson Chuck Scarpulla said on Friday.
According to Arlington High School athletic director Dave Goddard, Section 1 executive director Jennifer Simmons said they are “95 percent sure” Dutchess Stadium will be the venue. Simmons plans to visit the stadium this weekend “to make sure everything is OK” before the decision is finalized.
Scarpulla suggested that Section 1 is on the proverbial 1-yard line. “It’s not official yet,” he said, “but I’m fully confident this will be the place. It’s pretty much set.”
If all goes according to plan, the stadium’s baseball diamond, which recently was converted into a football field, will host the Section 1 Class AA, A and B finals on Nov. 7. The Class C and D finals will be held Oct. 31 at Pace University.
Dutchess Stadium, since it’s opening in 1994, has been home to the Hudson Valley Renegades, presently the a short-season Class A baseball affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The 4,494-seat ballpark now also hosts the Hudson Valley Fort, an independent professional team in the Fall Experimental Football League which had its opener last Saturday. The football field lines were painted and its goalposts installed last week.
“Being a Dutchess guy, this would be fantastic,” Goddard said. “Knowing the hard work the people there have done to make it a multi-use facility, I’m excited for them and the community.”
Mahopac High School hosted the event last year and Brewster High School had initially been selected as this year’s site, but a construction issue on Brewster’s compound led Section 1’s executive committee to consider an alternative. Dutchess Stadium became the favorite, Scarpulla said, “plus we didn’t find other places that could host all three games.”
“I was there on Sunday and checked it out,” he said. “There’s plenty of parking, the seats are nice and the field is contained. The locker rooms aren’t huge, but they’re big enough for 40 kids.”
Dutchess Stadium is located on New York State Route 9D which, Scarpulla said, “makes it easily accessible for everyone.”
Scarpulla said “the one negative” he noticed was the protective mesh screen in front of the seats behind where home plate would be, which he considers potential mild hindrance for spectators in those seats.
As for the players…
“I don’t think the venue will make a difference to them,” Scarpulla said. “The kids will be excited to have the opportunity to play in the championship and that’s all they’ll be concerned about.”
Section 9’s football championship games will be played Nov. 6 and 7. Class A will be held Nov. 6 at Kingston’s Dietz Memorial Stadium and Class D will be contested the same day at Middletown’s Faller Field. Dietz hosts a doubleheader Nov. 7 for Class C (3 p.m.) and Class B (7 p.m.), while Faller hosts Class AA (7 p.m.)
Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4