Byrd construction likely means move for football finals


The state high school football finals scheduled for Byrd Stadium on Dec. 2-3 likely will be moved to high school sites because of extensive construction that will begin Nov. 7 on the University of Maryland stadium.

Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, said yesterday that he will make a final decision Nov. 10 on where the football finals will be played.

Sparks has contacted several high schools to see if they would be interested in playing host to state championship games. Two schools that have been contacted are South Carroll and Liberty in Carroll County.

Sparks will tour Byrd Stadium on Nov. 10 to determine if there is any chance to play the high school games amid all the construction that will result in a second deck being added to the north (visitors) side and complete renovation of the stands on the west side.

Curt Callahan, University of Maryland director of operations and facilities, said yesterday that "the odds are not good" the state Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A title games will be played at Byrd this season.

"The games are in limbo," said Callahan. "At first we thought we could do it because we understood the construction company )) [Omni] was going to work on one side at a time. But now we find out they are going to hit both sides at once and take out two light standards. Fences are going to be installed on both sides of the stadium."

Callahan said the two main concerns that probably will move the games are lighting and safety.

"When you have that many people around that much equipment and debris, you have to worry about safety," he said.

"And when they told us about the lights, that made things worse. We enjoy having the games here, but it looks like we'll have to have a recess for a year and welcome them back next year."

Seven thousand old seats are being removed from the west side of the stadium, and 14,000 will be added to the upper deck on the north side.

The probable move of the state finals comes four years after the games were forced out of Byrd Stadium by construction that included a new press box.

In 1990, the state Class 4A championship game was moved to Westminster High, where Randallstown defeated Wootton, 21-12.

George McKelvie, coordinator of officials for the MPSSAA, said the association will have to find "alternative sites with decent football stadiums."

"Also, if two teams from Western Maryland were involved such as [2A schools] Allegany and Fort Hill, we certainly would play

that game up there," said McKelvie.

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