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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014: Nine to join basketball hall of fame

   Leading off today: The Basketball Coaches Association of New York has announced that nine new members will be enshrined into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame next March.

   Those slated to be honored March 22 at the Glens Falls Civic Center are:

    • Becky Ahart, who won four Section 9 championships in 24 seasons at Roscoe and Livingston Manor.

    • Walter Bachman, who started at Valley Stream North and reached career win No. 400 last season at Jericho in his 36th year on the bench. He's won six Section 8 titles.

    • Randy Begeal, who retired from Wells High with 483 victories and eight Section 7 championships.

    • Dave Gaylord, who retired after 29 seasons at Remsen with 426 wins and two Section 3 crowns.

    • Doug Loffler, the winner of 394 games and seven Section 10 championships at Lisbon, where he also coached eight other sports.

    • Jane Morris, who went over 700 wins last season coaching the Cardinal Spellman girls. The co-founder of the CHSAA girls league has coached five archdiocesan and three state CHSAA champs.

    • Frank Romeo, who won more than 400 games at Comsewogue and Suffolk Community College.

    • Buddy Wleklinski, who has won 430 games and six Section 3 crowns at Syracuse CBA, where the court is named in his honor.

    • Susan Zawacki, selected in the contributor category for her work in numerous roles, including starting the women's basketball program at Hamilton College.

   Get us out of here: If a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee, then Sahlen's Stadium is a sports venue that's being run into the ground by a pace of jackasses.

   I've come to that conclusion this month while watching Section 5 and NYSPHSAA football playoffs at the stadium north of downtown Rochester, and you can add my name to the list of people who think we're overdue for moving playoff games out of there ASAP.

   The venue was a mistake from the day it was built to accommodate a soccer team that touted its potential membership in the MLS but has since tumbled down the hierarchy of U.S. leagues to the point that it's barely a notch above NCAA Division I.

   Crammed into an awkward parcel atop a filled-in section of the abandoned subway bed -- in a neighborhood that's been on the decline for at least three decades because a certain politician insisted that it be built there -- the stadium has been an embarrassment of varying degrees since opening in 2006. I'll spare you a detailed account of the early problems (the use of double-wide trailers as locker rooms, the lack of an enclosed pressbox, etc.) and cut to the chase on the current issues, with help from Livingston County News sports editor Chris Metcalf.

   It's a short list:

  1. The people responsible for running the stadium don't give a damn.
   See, I told you it was a short list.

   The problems noted during two weekends of sectional football playoffs this fall included yard lines and hashmarks that were barely visible to the naked eye (almost always a problem there), a scoreboard that wasn't switched over from soccer mode and thus couldn't display down and distance appropriately, burned out lights that made one of

  

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  • the play clocks confusing at times, far too many failed bulbs in the light standards and a video replay board also in need of repair.

       By the time action returned in the form of state semifinals last weekend, some of the yard lines and the sideline numbers had been spruced up. But the tradeoff was that ice around the south 20-yard-line was chopped up but not entirely removed. In addition, fans on the home side of the stadium on Friday found their seats covered with snow. Those lucky enough to have tickets for the suites on the second level were greeted by dangerous ice on the staircases.

       And don't ask about the locker rooms, which are better than the old days but still substandard, or about car break-ins while games are in progress.

       Section 5 and the NYSPHSAA, who do just fine with the parts of game-day operations that are under their control, certainly didn't get much for the $3,000 they pay per game.

       And quite frankly the prospects for improved service aren't good; a city government whose rookie mayor stumbles from gaffe to gaffe (she really stuck her foot in it on Tuesday with her reaction to the Ferguson, Mo., developments) and whose braintrust can't even lay out a St. Patrick's Day parade route on its first try isn't up to the task. And City Hall will freak out when they find out how much its going to cost to replace the playing surface, which looks and feels as though it's worn out prematurely -- yet another item on the repairs to-do list that gets longer by the day.

       It's time to get out of there. Sectionals may have to be spread out across several venues. The every-other-year Western Regionals and the state semifinals, should they remain in Section 5, ought to go to SUNY Brockport (with some sort of contingency if the Golden Eagles qualify for NCAAs) -- I have it on good authority they would like to host.

       But under no circumstances should Sahlen's Stadium be allowed to host again without a guarantee of much better service. Our athletes deserve a better stage for their biggest games.

       Extra points: LaSalle Academy in New York City will end its all-male tradition next fall and begin admitting female students.


      
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