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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hey, why not start a turf war with Tacoma?

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Vince Grippi The Spokesman-Review

There was a short story in our paper last week about the WIAA giving the powers-that-be in Tacoma an ultimatum.

Fix the Tacoma Dome’s football turf or we’ll move the state championships.

Why waste the time?

Say adios to our state’s third-largest city and move the state football championships right here right now.

To Albi Stadium.

After walking the turf at both facilities last fall, I’m here to tell you Albi’s flaking, poorly lined, antiquated artificial turf is still better than the bumpy, seam-ridden stuff they have in the state’s third-largest city.

Sure there would be problems, not the least of which is Albi is an outdoor facility and the WIAA wants to stay indoors. But there aren’t many choices in this state. As WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said, “If we’re indoors, we’re only in the Tacoma Dome.”

But don’t lose heart just yet, Spokane.

“The bottom line is, if they don’t get a new carpet soon, we will go outdoors,” Colbrese said.

Still, early December can be awfully cold here in the great Inland Northwest.

I have a solution or two.

The first has to do with donated 2x12s from the Home Depot and a heck of a lot of plywood.

Let’s get together all the people who run Bloomsday or play in Hoopfest and build a roof for good old Joe Albi. It can be a Spokane version of a barn raising. Bring your hammer and a saw and help bring the 4A championship game to Spokane.

Or, if that won’t work – and I can’t think of any good reason why it wouldn’t – how about a big plastic cover inflated by hot air from the sewage treatment plant just down the river?

Either way, we’d have football fans sitting in covered comfort. Of course, like the Dome in the state’s third-largest city, the turf at Albi would have to be upgraded in a couple of years.

How do we pay for that?

We could sell the naming rights. We could call it the Vince Grippi Memorial Dome at Joe Albi Stadium. I’m sure there are a lot or readers who would contribute, as long as the Memorial part was included.

Or we sell the parking area around Albi. It’s dirt, which makes it easy to develop, and we won’t need that much parking anyway. There are all those nice residential streets in the surrounding neighborhoods in which to park.

Besides, with the plywood or plastic cover, the lights being on late would never be a problem.

It’s too bad such outside-the-box – and of course tongue-in-cheek – thinking will never be accepted here in conservative old Spokane. Instead, the mayor is going to get his wish and sell Joe Albi.

Pretty soon the place where Mark Rypien and Ryne Sandberg threw touchdown passes, and Frank Doctor and Archie Grant ran for yard after yard will be home for retirees – maybe even some of the same people who played there.

There might be new places to play playoff games, of course, such as the proposed field for which Gonzaga Prep is out raising money. The Prepsters have plans for a field similar to University and Central Valley’s, but with FieldTurf, which would allow much more play.

West Valley had floated an idea to put FieldTurf on its football stadium, but the cost is seen as prohibitive so those plans have been shelved.

What’s left?

The city and the school districts that use Albi will probably get together and build something on the old Playfair site (Playfair was covered wasn’t it, at least the area the fans occupied – and the barns?) to hold football games. It will probably have FieldTurf and will be able to be used for football and soccer and maybe even track.

Someday it will probably be pretty nice.

Can I suggest a plywood roof?

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