This year’s football season at Bangor’s Cameron Stadium began on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon in early September, when Bangor High School hosted Skowhegan and the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1959 NFL preseason game played there between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.
During the pre-game ceremonies, one of the city fathers referenced the ongoing effort to replace the region’s high school basketball tournament home, the Bangor Auditorium.
The comment came off as a bit curious to at least a few fans at the event, given that the venerable football facility where they were sitting at the time looks in need of its own makeover.
And before the game was over, even the stadium spoke out on the matter — the public address system broke down.
More than two months later, the speakers and wiring have been replaced, restoring the PA system to modern efficiency.
And the field itself has endured its typical heavy volume of competition.
With the Bangor High School and middle-school programs, John Bapst Memorial High School and Bangor Youth Football all calling the facility their football home, Cameron Stadium is one of the busiest grass- game fields in the state.
There’s junior varsity football on Monday, middle-school games on Tuesday, youth football on Wednesday and Sunday, freshman football on Thursday, Bangor varsity home games on Friday and John Bapst games on Saturday.
Throughout each fall the heavy use of the field amid naturally declining weather conditions takes its toll. Plush grass gives way to dirt, then dirt gives way to mud as late summer gives way to mid-autumn and as rain gives way to slush and inevitably to snow.
But now the field faces a potentially even greater challenge — simply holding up while both Bangor and John Bapst pursue their separate championship dreams deep into November.
Bangor will be the No. 1 seed for the Pine Tree Conference Class A playoffs that begin Oct. 30, meaning the Rams may host as many as three games on consecutive weekends at Cameron Stadium if the Rams continue their winning ways.
Defending Class C state champion John Bapst visits Foxcroft Academy on Friday night for the No. 1 seed in the LTC. Should John Bapst win, the Crusaders also may host as many as three playoff games on consecutive weekends at Cameron Stadium.
Even if Bapst loses at Foxcroft, the Crusaders will place second in the LTC and may play up to two home playoff games.
That’s five or six more playoff games on a field already weary from heavy use, amid conditions that lead to further deterioration with each drop in temperature or each drop of precipitation.
That the field gets this Friday and Saturday off from hosting games is fortunate, especially given Thursday’s drizzle and Saturday’s predicted heavier rain.
But by the time Bangor and John Bapst hope to be hosting Eastern Maine championship games on the weekend of Nov. 13-14, one can only imagine how playable the surface will be.
When Cameron Stadium might have been subject to such a heavy postseason workload in the past is unclear — possibly never given the expanded modern playoff formats.
Hopefully Cameron Stadium will survive the onslaught of late-season action, so the quality of the playing surface will not be a factor when it comes time for some of the most important games of the year.
Artificial turf, anyone?