By Mike Dyer
Where to play decided, Moeller sells 2,500 tickets in three hours (One fan buys 100).
Shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday the final verdict was in for the location of this Saturday’s Colerain vs. Moeller Division I regional football game.
The marquee matchup was remaining at Mason as had it been scheduled all along. So in essence the news was non-news.
Yet, the first 72 hours of the week provided drama for Queen City media and fans usually reserved for the college and professional sports scene.
Even one of the Cincinnati-area football coaches privately asked Wednesday morning – based on all the evidence where was his team going to play Saturday night?
In case you missed the intrigue, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Sunday morning the regional semifinal would be played at Mason High School’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.
Several fans voiced concern on Twitter assuming the game would be at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium ashad the regional final been in 2012.
Mason seats just over 7,000, according to the OHSAA. While both schools downplayed the significance of where the game would be played, some fans and school officials wondered if all the fans who want to attend would be able to get in the stadium with a capacity much smaller than Nippert (35,000).
“We don’t care where we play,” Colerain athletic director Dan Bolden said Tuesday afternoon.
A parking lot would suffice for this heavily-anticipated matchup, Bolden deadpanned.
No one was laughing Monday or Tuesday.
Colerain (12-0) and Moeller (11-1) are set to play at Mason because of the anticipated crowd size and how it relates to rental costs.
Though the OHSAA wouldn’t reveal the rental cost of Cincinnati-area venues, spokesman Tim Stried explained Sunday that Mason is significantly less than Nippert Stadium.
But, Sunday wasn’t the end of the story.
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune released a letter addressed to the OHSAA and the area media Monday expressing interest in having the game at Paul Brown Stadium, which has been the home of the NFL’s Bengals since 2000. (The Bengals are idle this weekend, which made this a possibility on Saturday night).
And though reports surfaced the pro stadium had a serious chance of pulling the regional semifinal game from Mason, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday morning Portune informed the schools the game would stay at Mason. This was shortly before an 11 a.m. scheduled county commissioners meeting which would’ve discussed the possible deal with the OHSAA.
All told, the hoopla was nothing more than speculation about a change in venue. Some fans are outraged while others are supportive.
Either way, presale tickets for the game were very steady as of Tuesday night as fans understood the urgency in which to purchase tickets for this game.
An area business owner arrived at Colerain High School Tuesday morning and purchased 100 tickets after pledging to Bolden Monday his intentions to purchase the large amount.
Other individuals purchased allotments of 70, 48 and 24 tickets, according to the school.
Moeller sold roughly 2,500 tickets in the first three hours of sales early Tuesday.
Yet even as those fans paid for the tickets many still had to wonder where exactly the showdown would be played Saturday night. The tickets aren’t stadium specific but now fans know they will be headed to Mason Saturday night where gates open at 5:30 p.m.
But, don’t blame Unlucky Week 13 on this. This is the seventh time these teams will play in the postseason since 2003.
The fact remains the location of the game has overshadowed what these student-athletes have achieved this year and the focus should be more on the field than off the field. These two teams deserve the attention from a football perspective and what this game represents for the Cincinnati area’s chances of making it back to Stark County.
Moeller (11-1), the reigning Division I state champion, is ranked No. 5 in the AP state poll and has been ranked among USA Today’s “Next 25” during the season.
Colerain (12-0) is ranked No. 14 nationally by USA Today and No. 1 in the AP state poll.
And if tickets are truly sold out by kickoff, there is some consolation in knowing the game will be televised live by Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
And we do know the Colerain vs. Moeller winner plays Hilliard Davidson or Huber Heights Wayne in the state semifinals Nov. 30.
And yes, the state semifinal location will be revealed this Sunday.
Those pairings might even include a parking lot in Dayton or Columbus.