Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's why the Shrine Bowl needs to come back to Charlotte, UNC Charlotte

So North Carolina beat South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl Saturday. I think the score was 26-19. Problem is, for folks in this state, the Shrine Bowl just doesn't mean what it used to, and that's a shame considering high school football in this state has taken off the way it has, and interest in high school football in this state has taken off the way it has.

The Shrine Bowl started in 1937 and was based on the East-West College Shrine game in California. A Charlotte fire chief named Hendrix Palmer helped put on the first game in December 1937. That game attracted 5,500. Admission was a buck. It was the nation's first high school all-star football game.

And it was was played here until 2000, when organizers moved it, basically because it just wasn't attracting the crowds it once had. I remember when the game would draw 20,000 and was shown on live TV that you didn't need cable or an internet connection to see. But by 2000, moving was the right thing to do. Crowds were way down. TV ratings were way down.

At the time, high school football in Charlotte had been going down, too.

The game moved around for a few years before landing in Spartanburg, S.C., about a 90 minute drive south of Charlotte and too deep into South Carolina for the game to matter for most N.C. fans.

Check the N.C. papers. Shrine Bowl coverage was sparse during the week and live game coverage wasn't strong either. Shame. The game matches the best players from North and South Carolina. It's a wonderful event, and over the years the Shriners have raised more than $70 million for children with disabilities in the Shriner's Hospitals.

It's funny, but in 2000, when the game left town, high school football really began to take off in North Carolina and especially in Charlotte. Independence won seven straight state championships. Skip one year and Butler won two more. Charlotte Catholic won a couple in smaller classifications. Mecklenburg County, and North Carolina, began to produce All-Americans with great regularity.

High school football began to matter like it never had before. But the high school football season, in this state at least, ended when the state championships did. For the kids who made the Shrine Bowl team, it was probably a great week, full of memories. But I can't tell you how many emails I got (and get) from people wondering what the Shrine Bowl is, or wondering why they stopped playing it.

If you're going to have a game with the best players from both states, you play it in a border town. Charlotte sits on the state line for both states. This is where the game started.

Memorial Stadium is old and in need of repair. So you can't hold it there. Bank of America Stadium, where Cam Newton's Panthers play, is too big, and probably too expensive.

The perfect solution, friends, is Charlotte, UNC Charlotte. The 49ers are about to launch a football team in August, 2013. Charlotte's new 15,000-seat stadium will open in August 2012.

Besides a really big high school football game to kick off the place -- can you hear me Butler and Mallard Creek -- wouldn't it be cool to have the Shrine Bowl come back to town and help open up the 49ers new digs?

I think it would help the Shrine Bowl, too. Imagine living in, say, Durham, and thinking of going to watch. Don't think I want to drive from Durham to Spartanburg unless my kin is playing. But I can see going from Durham to Charlotte. And Charlotte's a media hub. The Shrine Bowl's Q rating instantly goes up by coming back. And the interest in high school ball here, particularly about high school stars who are going to college, has never been greater.

Listen, end of the day, the Shrine Bowl is about some of the two states' top recruits.

It's time to bring them -- and the game itself -- back home. Back to where it all started.

24 comments:

49RFBN said...

Great idea! Drop the useless hyphen from the story and I'm all for it!

Anonymous said...

You mentioned the Shrine Bowl coverage in NC was sparse. That's because the Observer and other papers are too busy pimping and promoting the athletic programs in chapel hill (including their wannabee football program that no one cares about) to give a damn about anything else happening in this state.

Mke79 said...

Spartanburg is just as close as Charlotte to the State line. You guys had it and lost it. I think Spartanburg and Wofford do a nice job of hosting this event. If anything a rotational basis. I remember the big parade they used to have in Charlotte. It was a big parade in the late 60's early 70's.Congrats on win guys. Mike from Gaffney SC. GO INDIANS...........

Anonymous said...

Wait Spartanburg is just as close to Charlotte to the state line? What non accredited juco did you take geography in? Charlotte touches state line. Spartanburg is nearly two hours deep into SC. Great column Langston. And I agree with you

Anonymous said...

9:40, while I agree that it should come back to Charlotte maybe you need to check your geography. Spartanburg is NOT 2 hours into SC. Not even one, if you come the "straighest route" from NC. Take a look at a map.

Anonymous said...

2 hours, 1 hour, what does it matter. 1 hour driving at 55/65 mph is nowhere close to the state line. The writer here is right. If you have a game that's supposed to be about both states makes sense to play in Charlotte and very least Rock Hill. Playing deep into SC -- and an hour's drive is deep -- is too far for NC folks to come and for NC media to care. I'm for it.

Anonymous said...

UNC Charlotte will have a great stadium for hosting the event. Lets make it happen!

Anonymous said...

"What non accredited juco did you take geography in? Charlotte touches state line. Spartanburg is nearly two hours deep into SC. "


YOU IGNORANT HICK!

Anonymous said...

Langston will you please edit this tory?? it has a lot of double sentence post and run on sentences. Grammar check please just an FYI..

Anonymous said...

great idea and think this is the right move. I also, don't believe I read anything in the Charlotte Observer last week regarding the game and the area schools were well represented.

Anonymous said...

Can someone send this to Judy Rose? What better way to promote our new program by having states best prospects on our campus and in our facilities

Anonymous said...

Bad idea. UNC-C 49ers needs to wait 20 yrs miniumum to pay their dues.

The best idea is alternate from NC to SC every year at different locations to attract interest on a wider scale and make it fair.

sharon-tour said...

we had it, we lost it. If we want it back we have to work for it like Spartanburg did to get it. If we want to see the game all we have to do is drive 90 miles and stop at The beacon before the game for a real meal.

Al vaughn

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the shrine bowl location. Someone should take it over who's not trapped in the 60's. What's up with old white guys wearing rebel flags. Are they really shriner's? I did not see Any /hispanic,asian,of black members? United we stand. Right?/

Anonymous said...

Langston it makes no sense for this game to be anywhere but Charlotte. We are new here living here five years and we have seen the game once, it's too far to drive to. More people would have access here and it would be a bigger deal for the kids. be good for uncc to

Anonymous said...

I think the center point of the two states is Charlotte and for that reason it would be great to get it back to the metro area. Rock Hill was not bad but the stadium and press box are not large enough.

I also think coming to Charlotte the weekend before Christmas may be a positive for visitors with the available shopping here.

Chamber needs to talk with the Shriners. One reason the game left was because of some issues between the temples that were handling the game.

NC is doing a good job of getting the right kids on the field. Now lets try to host the game at least on a rotating basis with SC. btango

Anonymous said...

it belongs in Clt.They never should have taken it away. I sure Clt. had research 10 yrs. to know that it would be big oneday.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte, sure, but Spartanburg is not a bad location either - much closer for everyone in WNC.

Charlotte a media center?

Anonymous said...

So if Charlotte can get the Shrine Bowl back, will we see an all-out media blitz by the Charlotte Observer leading up to the big game?

Put your money here your mouth is CO. Oh wait, newspapers have no money anymore.

Wofford isn't a bad facility, the Panthers seem to like it just fine. Spartanburg is NOT two hours deep into SC either.

Anonymous said...

For most NC people Spartanburg might as well be in Switzerland like if we held the game in Burlington. Won't debate how far it is into SC. For most people in NC it's way too deep or to far or however you wish to say. Writer here is right and makes sense.

Anonymous said...

While this sounds like a good idea, it would need to be scheduled at a different time. UNCC could not host both a football game and commencement at the same time. I suspect the HS game would be a much lower priority than commencement. Traffic in Rock Hill was horrible enough with morning commencement at Winthrop and the afternoon football game on the other side of campus at District III stadium.

Anonymous said...

The Shrine Bowl is 80-90 years old and needs to be eliminated altogether. What a waste.

The teams are nothing but pure politics and meaningless other than collecting a few bucks for the burn center. Its day has come and gone long ago.

Take up a collection and donations instead. And why only football? Arent there other sports in high school?

This game is pre-dinosaur era. Drop the insanity. Just let it go and you will never miss it.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte, sure, but Spartanburg is not a bad location either - much closer for everyone in WNC.

Charlotte a media center?"

Yes, Charlotte is a media center actually, at least for sports. ESPNU is headquartered in Charlotte in the Ballantyne area.

Anonymous said...

i know i'm very late on commenting on this but i'm a junior at Nation Ford High School and my class was asked to design the tickets, programs and posters.....anywayyssssss its not about the location its all about helping those children in need of all of you guys help!!!!!!! (THIS YEAR AS WELL)