Paul to kick for Fairmont
by Chris Errington
SPORTS WRITER
    What began as a rare opportunity to split time between two fall sports has now earned Bridgeport’s Travis Paul a full-time college job.
    Paul has accepted a football scholarship to NCAADivision II Fairmont State and could become the team’s kicker during his freshman season.
    “I’m looking forward to kicking in college,” Paul said. “When (Bridgeport coach Bruce)Carey asked me to kick, I had no idea it would turn into this.”
    Paul was already a key member of Bridgeport’s stellar soccer team, and well on his way to breaking the school record in the high jump when a conversation with Carey made him a three-sport star.
    “I knew he had a strong foot and that his work ethic was strong, too,” Carey said, “but I didn’t know he’d kick so well for us, especially with only getting one day of practice. Now that he will be concentrating his time on football, he will be fine.”
    Paul converted 5 of 9 field goal attempts, including a long of 37 yards. And he made 32 of 33 extra points to accompany his 39.0-yard punting average. Paul has been chosen to play in this summer’s North-South all-star game at Charleston’s Laidley Field.
    Paul could also get an opportunity to punt for Fairmont if the school’s regular punter, Nathan White, is once again hobbled by injuries.
    “I talked to (Fairmont State) coach (Doug) Sams and he told me that if I can come in and do as good a job as Nathan or even better, I’ll get to do field goals and extra points,” Paul said. “I’m not even worried about punting. That’ll come later.”


A satirical look at why 19-year-old 
Mountaineer Field must be torn down

    OK, before I start, let me say that many of you might think I’ve lost it. Others may say I never had it. And still others will claim that I’ve been on, as Don Nehlen likes to call it, that “wacky tobacky.”
But what I have to say must be said: Mountaineer Field must be torn down.
Now.
    When West Virginia University’s football stadium opened in  1980, it was top-of-the-line, with the then-largest scoreboard in  college football as well as 55,000 seats. Expansion in the mid-1980s raised the capacity to its present level of 63,500.
    But today, 19 years later, the stadium lacks three necessary commodities, components it needs to remain competitive in today’s recruiting market:
A.)  A grass playing surface,
B.) Hundreds of revenue-producing luxury boxes, and
C.)  Bodies in the stands.
    Checked out any Mountaineer football games lately? With the exception of the first half of the opener against Ohio State, there were at least 10,000 empty seats at every game this year. (The official count at the Miami game was around 60,000, but that’s got to include several thousand phantom students.)
    Go to the Gold-Blue game later this month. Only the west-side stands will be open. And they still won’t be close to being filled.
    Look at the Pittsburgh Pirates. They play at Three Rivers Stadium, which used to seat 58,000 fans for baseball. But the franchise brass, apparently tired of seeing empty seats at the 1992 National League playoffs, decided to cover about 11,000 seats with tarpaulins.
    Publicly, they claimed it was to create a “baseball atmosphere.” How tarps in the outfield create atmosphere, I’ll never know. But I do know that, in reality, it’s a lesson in simple economics.
    You know the law of supply and demand. By cutting down the supply of tickets by 11,000, demand for the remaining 47,000 seats should go up. And as demand rises, so can prices.
Why not here? Why not now?
    Oh, sure, some of you also will complain that the stadium isn’t yet 20 years old. If it were a person, it couldn’t even buy a beer.
    Tell that to George Shinn, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, who wants a new arena because 11-year-old Charlotte Coliseum doesn’t have enough luxury suites. Or to the owners of the San Antonio Spurs, who want to abandon the seven-year-old Alamodome for similar reasons.
    And Three Rivers Stadium will be 30 years old next year but the rumblings for a new stadium started in the late ’80s, before the stadium hit 20.
    And WVU doesn’t even have the newest stadium in the Big East. Rutgers Stadium was rebuilt for 1994. Temple and Pittsburgh are getting new digs, sharing them with the Eagles and Steelers. Boston College’s Alumni Stadium was remodeled a few years ago.
That simply means in today’s market, Mountaineer Field can’t possibly suffice.
    So here’s my suggestion to WVU AD Ed Pastilong: Lobby Morgantown and Monongalia County to build a sparkling, “intimate” (read: tiny) downtown stadium ... er, ballpark ... complete with the old-time feel of Old Mountaineer Field and a retractable roof. Didn’t you know all ballparks in the 1800s had retractable roofs? (The Seattle Mariners figured this out for their new Safeco Field.)
    Anyway, if Mon County says no, just do what the pro sports owners do: Hold the city hostage while you negotiate with another town.
Might I suggest Clarksburg? Bridgeport? Or Lost Creek?
    We’ll gladly build you the ballpark, and sell the naming rights to One Valley Bank or American Vending or somebody, anybody, who’s the highest bidder.
    Luxury boxes? The new stadium will have those, too. Not just 10, like this current Mountaineer Field. We’re talking 150 of  them, each of ’em on the 50-yard line and each commanding about $2 million per season, for a minimum of 10 years.
    Personal seat licenses? You’ve already got those in place, cleverly disguised as “student tuition” and “athletic fees.” Keep it up.
    Oh, and Ed, while you’re at it, take a wrecking ball to the 29-year-old WVU Coliseum, too.
Same reasons apply.



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999