Florida Times-Union

August 1, 1974

By Maynard Eilers

It's Not Much But, It's the Stars Home

NEW YORK - To get to Downing Stadium, you walk down Madison Avenue, go through Harlem, turn right at 125th Street, and proceed across the Triborough Bridge to Randalls Island.

If you want to get there alive you will probably hire an armored car and procure a police escort. But fans of the Jacksonville Sharks were probably just as well off watching the Wednesday night game with the New York Stars on television, despite the weak picture.

"In order to get a good television picture," said Stars' General Manager Robert Keating, "you need 125-foot candles of light. We probably had about 15 tonight."

This made it difficult for TV viewers to get a clear idea of the proceedings and even harder for instant replay which always comes out fuzzier. But if you think the TV coverage was subpar, consider the problems of the players.

To begin with, the field at Downing Stadium was as hard as a rock. The goal post uprights angled inward making it difficult to kick. A high jump pit, which was covered with sand, was hazardously placed in the end zone.

"We'll have to do one-on-one drills on the cinder track to get ready for the hard field," said Sharks' tight end Dennis Hughes.

"It's funny," said defensive back Dennis Pete, who was on the Sharks' taxi squad.

"This is the worst stadium in the league and it's in the nation's biggest city."

It wasn't funny for Keating who said that the choice of Downing Stadium, which is the home of the New York Cosmos of the North America Soccer League, was the only alternative.

"We will probably move into Yankee Stadium in 1976," said Keating, "although we are considering other alternatives, such as The Meadowlands in New Jersey, where the New York Giants will play.

"We have already applied to play our last three games at Shea Stadium (parent home of the New York Jets, Mets, and Yankees), and if they don't let us use it I'll sue them. We'll be somewhere in two years but it damn sure won't be here."