Saturday, October 14, 2006

The box of all boxes ...

Before I went off to cover Atascadero's thrilling 24-17 prep football victory over Arroyo Grande — the Greyhounds' first win over the Eagles since 1997 — Tribune intern Tristan Aird told me that Doug Hitchen Stadium in Arroyo Grande had the best press box on the Central Coast.

He lauded the construction and the viewing angles, the large windows and the lighting.

Tristan was right. The Doug Hitchen press box experience was priceless but not because of its comfort.

The best part about the box is that the radio and print media are all together in one big room. Normally, the radio play-by-play announcers are separated from the newspaper reporters and put in different rooms.

Picture the Atascadero radio guys in one extreme corner, the Arroyo Grande guys in the other, this unbiased reporter in the middle and several Eagles boosters filling out the rest of the chairs.

In a tight game, it was a hoot to hear the Atascadero radio guys pipe up when the Greyhounds made a big play or got nailed with a controversial penalty. And when Arroyo Grande busted a big run, the Eagles' play-by-play men had their say. It was kind of like watching all the television channels at once.

And to top it all off, the stadium's namesake, Doug Hitchen himself, who worked at the high school for 34 years and 17 as principal, sat like a king on his throne in the dead center of the box, fittingly on a chair taller than everyone else's.

Is Arroyo Grande’s the best press box? I haven't been to them all, but it was a great place to watch an exciting game.


Aaron Crutchfield said...

Did anyone mention to you why they switched the visitor and home sides, so that Atascadero's sideline and fans were on the same side as the press box? I'm curious to know. The only other time I've seen visitors sitting on the same side as the press box was at Beverly Hills, and that's just because they don't have visitors' stands.

Anonymous said...

The visitors are on the same side as the press box because that side used to be the home side. The larger bleachers across from the press box used to be way smaller and the visitors side. I'm surprised they haven't put a new press box on the side of the "new" home bleachers.

Anonymous said...

You know what I've always wondered, how many people does each high school's stadium seat. I've been to all the stadiums but they are all shaped so differently. Atascadero has the highest bleachers and the nicest track. Paso doesn't have a track so the bleachers are right on the field (and their guest bleachers are pathetic.) Just thought I'd pose the question and maybe you could find out.

Joshua D. Scroggin said...

That's a great question about the stadium capacities. The prep football previews that The Tribune put out in the week leading up to the season were originally slated to have a guide to local stadiums, including directions, parking tips and, yes, capacities.

The feature was cancelled due to space restrictions and wasn't fully completed (although putting it online seems like a good idea now). Here's what I had for the round figures given straight from the coaches:

Coast Union
Coast Union Stadium
Capacity: 3,000

Paso Robles
War Memorial Stadium (Flamson Middle School)
Capacity: 7,000

Eagle Volunteer Field
Capacity: 1,500

Memorial Stadium
Capacity: 5,000

Morro Bay
Pirate Stadium
Capacity: 2,000

San Luis Obispo
Holt Field
Capacity: 4,000

St. Joseph
Al Maguire Field
Capacity: 3,000

Because of the midstream cancellation, I didn't nail down Arroyo Grande or Nipomo (or the other Santa Maria schools), but there's always next year.

Aaron Crutchfield said...

Paso Robles has an all-weather track... it's at the high school. There used to be a dirt track at the football stadium (I went to Flamson Middle School and had to run on that track) but it got paved over and the fence was built in... I want to say 1994, but it could be 1995. The seats didn't get moved, though, so the distance from the front row of seats to the field is more or less the same as at Atascadero Memorial Stadium, SLO Holt Field, etc.

But now my question for War Memorial Stadium in Paso is if the 7,000 is just permanent seating or if it includes the portable bleachers they bring in for CIF championship games and the like. The way the stadium's set up, it's really easy to stick three or four bleachers just south of the south end zone, whereas that wouldn't be so easy in Atascadero.