This week some controversy has been stirred up by the AMNRL with the announcement of their venue for the World Cup Qualifiers in October. The controversy stems from the fact that the stadium is a baseball stadium rather than a traditional “Football” stadium. However this is a very smart move by the AMNRL in a few respects. Let me go through why I think this is a smart move by the AMNRL and why fans everywhere should support it and not be too concerned.
Campbell’s field, shown in the picture below, is a brand new stadium built for the minor League Baseball competition in new Jersey. It was completes in 2001 and it holds over 6500 fans. It being a new stadium means that it will have fantastic brand new facilities for the comfort of not only the players but also the fans.
Campbell’s Field in New Jersey, home of the 2011 World Cup Qualifiers for the Atlantic Region
The Stadium, though technically located in New Jersey, is just on the other side of the Delaware River, across the Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia. It will be no problem getting to it from Philadelphia or the surrounding regions in my opinion. There seems to be decent public transport in the area. There is a tram stop 500m away and City Hall Train Station about 1 km away. So not too bad in that respect
Location of Campbell’s Field with respect to Philadelphia. Its just across the river and border in NJ.
The map above should give a decent reference to where the stadium is with respect to Philadelphia. Some have said that the Fans from the Bulls and Bucks County teams will have problems traveling, well its Philadelphia, traffic is pretty bad there anyway, so it doesn’t matter where you put it, if there are going to be travel issues there will be travel issues. But hopefully the traffic issues on the New Jersey side, called Camden, should not have as many traffic problems. Fans should have no worries getting there.
One of the biggest concerns I have read about and heard is that the games are being played in a Baseball Stadium. A comment from one of RLIS’s readers says that it would have been better to play in a High School. My answer to this is no it isn’t. There are several reasons for this and I’ll address why the Baseball stadium is better:
And one thing that needs to be realised, using Baseball Stadiums for football games is nothing new! The American Football teams have been doing this for nearly 100 years. So this in no new precedent or anything out of the ordinary to do. Just last year, the University Illinois Football team played Northwestern University at Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is the Cubs home ground.
Also the Chicago bears used to play out of Wrigley field as well.
And also who can forget the fact that the New York Jets used to play out of Shea Stadium which was also the home to the New York Mets baseball team and for a season in 1975 the New York Giants also played there.
There are also many other examples of Baseball and Football teams sharing their stadiums
So using Campbell’s park for a Rugby league game really should not be anything out of the ordinary. As I stated earlier, the fact that it’s on grass and so a proper Rugby league field, of international Quality can be marked out and posts set out and the crowd have a decent stadium to sit ant watch the game is the biggest advantage of all.
However, this does not mean there aren’t any concerns to be had. One of the biggest issues is player safety when it comes to the try zones. These will tend to be close to the walls and we know that when a kick and chase is on players can easily run through. Having a hard brick wall in the way could be an issue. This is a concern even for Football teams, last year the solution the Fighting Illini had in terms of their concerns was to switch play every time so that it was only going one way. This of course cannot be done in Rugby league due to its free flowing nature.
Promotion will be the biggest issue. Though I have said that having the game in Camden should not be a big problem being right next to Philly, Promotion will still need to be a big thing. It will be interesting to see if the Logo will change from Philadelphia to New Jersey? Will there be a big media push with these games. I have not seen any media advertising anywhere for any of the Rugby league games in the USA so this is an area where the AMNRL has to step up to the plate.
For the USA, the National team make up will also be of interest. I think its a no brainer that the Tomahawks will be stacked with as many heritage players as there can be. Under the current rules this mean 15/20 can be heritage players leaving only 5 spots for local players, pretty tough for players in 5 teams and also two expansion teams and also Hawaii. There being all up about 10 teams with players in the running, means that people will miss out.
Then there is the USARL debate and if their players will at any stage be in the running. If they do then you have another 8 teams to consider.
Game 1: Saturday – 15 October 2011 – South Africa Rhinos vs. USA Tomahawks
Game 2: Wednesday – 19 October 2011 – Jamaica vs. South Africa Rhinos
Game 3: Sunday – 23 October 2011 – USA Tomahawks vs. Jamaica
Don’t forget that also the USA Tomahawks and Canada Wolverines will be playing a 2 game series, The Colonial Cup, on 27 August in Philadelphia and September 17 in Toronto. The South Africans will also have a warm up match against the Canadians on the 24th September in Toronto.
I’ll be there covering the Qualifiers and one of the Colonial Cup games. And I am hoping that I will have the chance to see the South African Warm Up game as well.
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