Report: Boardwalk Hall Could Host Big 10 Football Games This Winter
The Big 10 conference will not play football this fall, but might try to play this winter, and could even use Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to make that happen.
According to a Sports illustrated report, the conference is considering playing a winter football schedule that starts in January, with teams playing games at indoor stadiums.
There could well be a winter season of Big Ten football coming, a development that multiple sources told SI is gaining momentum around the league. Indoor stadiums within the league’s sprawling geographic footprint could host doubleheader games, one source said, with multiple schools assigned to five or six “anchor” facilities.
The thinking is that playing in the winter, as opposed to spring, will keep a lot of NFL prospects in the college game and also avoid compromising the 2021 fall season. The idea has been well received by Big Ten TV partners, sources said.
One of the indoor stadiums being discussed is right here in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall.
Atlantic City: Yes, you read that right. Boardwalk Hall regularly hosted high school and college football games in the 60s and 70s, including the 1964 Liberty Bowl. The arena has not yet responded to an NJ Advance Media inquiry into whether the building is still capable of hosting games, but photos from past contests indicate the size and structure of the floor remain the same and artificial playing surfaces have come a long way in the last 50 years.
There would likely be some quirks, but nothing that could not be overcome if the city and conference were committed to the concept. Past games at Boardwalk Hall had shortened end zones due to space constraints, but the Big Ten has played games toward one regulation end zone before and could do it again if needed. Punts hitting the video board could also be a concern, but it should not be hard to raise it to the top of the roof or take it down entirely.
If the venue works out, everything else falls into place. Atlantic City has ample hotel capacity and it would be the clear best-case “home” dome for Rutgers, Penn State and Maryland. Weekly travel to the Midwest would be tough for the Eastern programs and a deal with Syracuse to use the Carrier Dome would be awkward at best, if not impossible.
The report states that Rutgers, Penn State and Maryland would share the hall for home games, while cities St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Indianapolis would also be used as home sites.
Baordwalk Hall has hosted plenty of football games in the past, with the Atlantic City-Holy Spirit high school football game being held at the hall. It also once hosted the Boardwalk Bowl from 1961-1973 and the Liberty Bowl was played at the hall. It was home to the Atlantic City Card Sharks and the Atlantic City Blackjacks Area League team.
The one issue is with the new renovation at the hall, a 100-yard field could bot be laid down in the hall, which would be something that would need to be worked out. A few years back a game held at Chicago's Wrigley Field flipped the field because of shortened a end zone.