Tonight, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will hold conference championship games at three different high schools. There are some great matchups between some highly ranked teams.
What a shame fans will have to choose just one.
Not so long ago, just seven years back, CMS played its championship games for all conferences at one site. Buy one ticket and see all the top teams.
That format was used in the past at Providence High, which has a 2,000-seat gym, at the Charlotte 49ers' Halton Arena and at what is now Bojangles' Coliseum.
Since 2006, games were moved to multiple high school sites. I think it's time to think about a return to the old days. There are plenty of local options, plus Queens is building a new gym near the heart of town. There are some financial concerns with a larger facility, but the payoffs are great.
"I liked it the other way myself," said Gosnell White, a former West Charlotte boys coach, who coached in a number of these conference championship games. White is now head coach at Union County's Marvin Ridge High. "It gave the other teams a chance to see teams they hadn't seen but had heard about. Same with the fans. The players anticipated the championships. At Independence Arena (now Bojangles'), it used to be so big."
The one-site championship games would draw crowds three or four times as big as most high schools could hold. I always thought that those games were the perfect time for the leagues to announce their all-conference teams, to let the kids come out at midcourt in front of all their peers, parents and fans and be honored for their phenomenal seasons.
White noted that another benefit of playing at, say Halton or Bojangles', was that the large floor and open areas behind the baskets replicated what teams would see at regional and state competition.
Plus, he said, everyone just enjoyed playing on the big stage, literally and figuratively.
"My (old players) still talk about those games," White said. "It's something they looked forward to. They would always play extra hard to get there."
White said he didn't like the move back to campus.
"The crowds weren't as large," he said. "I remember we played Independence one year at Waddell and the crowd was a typical West Charlotte-Independence crowd."
Back when it used the one-site format, CMS would play as many as six games in one day. That's too much. I'd suggest playing the three girls finals on Thursday and the boys finals on Friday - but getting the conferences all together would be just as neat now as it used to be.
"Going back would be great," White said. "Guys like me, in a different county, if I have an off day, I'd love to see some of those games."