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Down By The Boardwalk, Under the ... Goalposts?

August 13, 1996

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ The site of the world’s first indoor football game is about to roll out the green grass again. About 70,000 square feet of it, to be exact.

Convention Hall, the site of the Miss America Pageant, is trading its high heels for spikes, hosting its first indoor football game in 12 years.

In a Sept. 21 doubleheader, Delaware State will play North Carolina Central and Bowie State (Md.) will square off against Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Fourteen tractor-trailer loads of blended Kentucky bluegrass will be shipped in and slapped down on the concrete floor of the center in 4-by-25-foot strips that are 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.

The grass, being grown locally by Tuckahoe Turf Farms of Hammonton, will be harvested that Wednesday and laid down on Thursday and Friday.

A spokesman for Tuckahoe said the clay soil would help the grass stick to the concrete, but acknowledged that playing two games on it could cause significant wear and tear.

``It’s going to be hard for (players) to move it, it will be so thick,″ said James Betts, who helped prepare estimates on the $25,000 job.

The end zones will be 7 yards deep, not the customary 10, he said.

The event _ dubbed ``The Approaching Storm Football Classic″ _ is named after the Delaware State marching band. Organizers said Monday they hoped to start a new tradition by resuming an old one.

``We hope it’s the start of a beautiful relationship, to steal a line from `Casablanca,‴ said Mayor James Whelan. ``We hope this is not a one-shot deal.″

Convention Hall has hosted dozens of high school and college football games over the years.

The first, a college game between Lafayette and Washington Jefferson University on Oct. 25, 1930, is said to be the first indoor football game in the world.

The building was later the site of numerous bowl games, including the Liberty Bowl, the Boardwalk Bowl and the Knute Rockne Bowl.

On Dec. 19, 1964, Utah beat West Virginia 32-6 in the last Liberty Bowl before it was moved to Memphis, Tenn.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were five ``Boardwalk Bowl″ college football games played in the center, featuring such schools as North Carolina Central, the University of Massachusetts, Cal-Davis and Grambling, according to a history of the building written by Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Blair Learn.

The last was played Dec. 1, 1973.

In 1970, the Knute Rockne Bowl _ a title game for Division III schools _ was moved here from Bridgeport, Conn. It was last played here in 1972.

At a news conference Monday, principals from the four schools playing in the Sept. 21 classic said their interest was focused more on the future than the past.

They said they hoped to use the game to help recruit students and bring together alumni.

``It’s very much a recruiting tool. We want our visibility up in the Jersey area,″ said Don Golacinski, associate athletic director at Delaware State.

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