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Tue. January 12, 2010 | Izzy Gould | Email

The conversation among the Class 5A, District 7 schools began during the district volleyball tournament.

Was there a sensible more economic approach to playing the state semifinals sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association?

The four-team district consists of two Hernando County schools (Central and Springstead) and two Ocala schools (Ocala Forest and Ocala West Port). Sometimes, one district tournament semifinal will pair two teams from the same county for a game at a host school in another county.

For example, Ocala Forest and Ocala West Port are paired up for next week's 5A-7 district tournament soccer semifinals being hosted at Springstead.

Recognizing the likelihood attendance would suffer and considering the sheer time and cost of transportation, the four athletic directors agreed to allow the Ocala schools to play the semifinal at Forest. The winner would then face the Central-Springstead winner for the final Thursday at Springstead. 

"All kidding aside it would cost $300 just in buses to get the kids to Springstead," Forest athletic director Jody Phillips said. "If I go twice it would be $500 to $600."

And the schools would be spared the time and cost of 120 mile roundtrip to Spring Hill. For the advancing team, that would have been back-to-back trips totaling 240 miles.

Financially, Springstead should see little impact. Each school would stand to gain 15 percent of the gate after $250. The rest goes directly to the FHSAA.

Host schools get to keep all concession revenue so Springstead could miss out on some money for the game held at Forest.

But attendance is often sparse compared to a sport such as football, and those revenues are often minimal.  

"It would be stupid to bring those two schools down here," Springstead athletic director Jeff Spivey said. "They wouldn't have a following and we want to save some money for travel. ...I think it's good for the fans. It's good all around."

Spivey said he believed this arrangement could apply for other district tournaments. Phillips said it would likely be taken on a case-by-case basis.

igould@tampabay.com

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