Bangor’s opener to highlight historic activities

Posted Aug. 05, 2009, at 9:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The start of Maine’s high school football season will have an historic feel at Cameron Stadium on Sept. 5.

Not only will Bangor host defending Eastern Maine Class A champion Skowhegan at 1 p.m. in an early season battle of two teams expected to contend for top honors in the Pine Tree Conference this fall, the game will be part of the festivities recognizing the 50th anniversary of the NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers played on the same field on Sept. 5, 1959.

“Our players are really excited about it,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett during a press conference Wednesday afternoon on the Cameron Stadium turf. “They can’t believe that the Giants and Packers played on this field.

“We’ve always said this was sacred ground, and I guess that just proves it.”

Recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Giants-Packers exhibition game — which brought such NFL legends as Vince Lombardi, Pat Summerall, Frank Gifford, Bart Starr, Sam Huff and Paul Horning to the Queen City — is being held as part of Bangor’s ongoing 175th anniversary celebration.

In conjunction with that observance, other planned events surrounding the Bangor-Skowhegan game include an antique car show, 1950s music, concessions rolled back to 1959 prices, a Kids Zone for children, and the chance to kick a field goal to win $1,959 at halftime of the game.

Commemorative tickets are being printed for the Bangor-Skowhegan game, and reproductions of the Giants-Packers game program will be available.

The Giants defeated the Packers 14-0 in that 1959 preseason contest, played before an estimated crowd of 12,000 Eastern Maine football fans.

The game is believed to be the first and only contest played in Maine between two NFL franchises, and was held in conjunction with Bangor’s 125th anniversary as a city.

The 50th anniversary of that game also may serve to focus attention on the future of Cameron Stadium, which is home to both Bangor and John Bapst High School’s football teams as well as the city’s youth football program.

“This field has been home to many, many games, and it’s served Bangor well,” said Bangor High School athletic administrator Steve Vanidestine. “We’re in the process now of creating a vision in which we’d like to raise the money to put it in the category of being able to play state championship games at this facility.

“I don’t have a timetable for it, but I’m looking forward to a complete renovation.”

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