Newark Star-Ledger

August 23, 1974

By Mike Weber

Stars' Gladieux rips field condition, crowd

NEW YORK - Bob Gladieux had his best night as a pro Wednesday but that didn't soften his opinion about the stadium in which he and the New York Stars are forced to play. Simply, he calls Downing Stadium, "the worst field anywhere to play football."

The poor field, poor crowd and poor lighting didn't stop Gladieux, however, as he scored four touchdowns and the Stars romped to a 43-10 victory over the Houston Texans. As bad as Gladieux feels about the ballpark, he believes he and his teammates have an edge over the visiting teams - at least the Stars have a chance to get used to it.

"The field is definitely an advantage to us," he said. "It's just not the kind of place you'd expect to play in when you come in New York.

"The lighting isn't as much of a factor as it was earlier now that they have two new light standards. But I think it's tough for anybody to come here and play football."

That includes Gladieux, who gained 84 yards on 20 carries Wednesday night. But there's something which bothers him even more. It's the crowd - or the lack of a good sized crowd.

"People just don't want to come to Randalls Island," he said. "They don't want to pay $9 a head and I can't really blame them. But it gets you down to play in front of such small crowds."

The year's smallest crowd - 12,042 - watched the Stars raise their record to 5-2 and give credence to the belief the Stars are bonafide title contenders in the WFL East. The better the Stars play, though, the worse the stadium looks. It's becoming more and more like marketing caviar in a brown paper bag.

Stars owner Robert J. Schmertz, while denying reports he would soon sell the club, acknowledged he expected to lose $7 million in Downing Stadium. He and Gladieux share a dream of playing in Yankee Stadium once its refurbishing is completed in 1976.

"The club is not worth $6 million in Downing Stadium," said Schmertz, referring to the reported price he had been offered for the team. "It would be worth $10 million in Yankee Stadium."

"We'd get 35,000 fans every game if we played in Yankee Stadium," added Gladieux.

For this season, however, all the Stars will have to content themselves in playing in a stadium which can only be classified as minor league.

"This is a pretty damned good team," said Gladieux, a former standout at Notre Dame. "The biggest test for us will come in the next three weeks when we play Houston again, then Philadelphia and Florida. That should tell a lot."

The biggest test for Gladieux was four seasons in the NFL from 1969-1972 when he carried the ball a grand total of 65 times, all but four for the New England Patriots. He was an eight-round pick of the Pats but feels he was never given a chance to prove his worth.

Then came the biggest blow of all when he was summarily released in 1972.

"Certain people didn't like me or my attitude," said Gladieux, "I think my release was a retaliatory move by the general manager (Upton Bell) against the coach (John Mazur). There was a personality conflict between me and the general manager. The coach liked me the GM didn't. That's all there was to it."

So Gladieux was gone, left to seek another place to ply his trade. When the WFL came along, it proved his biggest opportunity. He has capitalized fully.

"He has played very well," says Stars coach Babe Parilli. "He has the ability to go out and get you those three yards that you need."

Even in a ballpark which, Gladieux repeats, "is the worst place anywhere to play football."