It's New Castle vs. Hampton IV. And why is it being played at Bethel Park, you may ask?
Because other bigger venues aren't available and it makes the most sense to the WPIAL and PIAA.
New Castle will play Hampton for the fourth time this season, Saturday afternoon at 2 at Bethel Park. Many are asking why Bethel Park? That's a natural question. But here is the scoop, straight from WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley:
Earlier this week, the WPIAL and PIAA started contacting facilities that could possibly play host to the game if it came about. The first call went to Duquesne University's Palumbo Center. Sorry, not available, said Palumbo officials. The next call went to Robert Morris. Sorry, not available. Slippery Rock University was called, and O'Malley said Slippery Rock said it is not available for PIAA games after Wednesday.
Ambridge is a good-sized gym and played host to New Castle-North Allegheny Wednesday night. Sorry, not available, said Ambridge officials.
So, the WPIAL and PIAA decided to go to the biggest high school gym in the WPIAL that was available. No, not Chartiers Valley. And no, not North Allegheny. It was Bethel Park, said O'Malley.
Bethel Park opened a sparkling new gymnasium in January of 2012 and seating capacity is 2,450. Seats are even in the end zones. But the gym also has a track above the seats that circles the entire facility. The track will accommodate those people who have to stand. (Bethel Park gym photo courtesy of Mascaro Construction and Bethel Park)
Tickets will be hard to come by again for this game, but that's just the way it is. There is no reason to complain about the WPIAL or PIAA. It's one of those rare situations that a lot of people want to see these two teams play. It's a hot ticket. Sometimes tickets are hard to get, no matter the level. But actually, isn't this great for basketball in this area to have this much interest in games?
And sure, New Castle is 62 miles from Bethel Park (according to Mapquest) while Hampton is only 22. But it's the "state" playoffs. Sometimes because of the situation, you have to travel. New Castle fans, make a day of it. Head down I-79, stop for a late breakfast or early lunch, get off at the Bridgeville exit and head the back way over to Bethel Park.
Tickets today are available only at the two schools. Each school received 1,200 tickets. Both schools will probably sell their allotments. Heck, the way New Castle fans are, I wouldn't be surprised if New Castle's allotment was gone before athletic director Sam Flora finished breakfast.
Bethel Park athletic director Any Scheuneman said the school will put about 300 standing-room tickets on sale tomorrow, beginning at 1 p.m. Judging by the line to buy tickets for this game at Palumbo two weeks ago, it wouldn't surprise me to see people lining up at 9 tomorrow morning to get a ticket. It will be "breakfast at Bethel" for some.
"People say, 'What about the Petersen Center?' But that's not even realistic," said O'Malley. “People are of the opinion that we can go where we want for these games and that’s not true. For whatever reason, places weren’t available. Obviously, we’ve played games at North Allegheny and Chartiers Valley, but Bethel Park is a new gym with seating capacity that exceeds both of those places.
“We looked around to see what’s available. Bethel Park has the largest seating capacity of any gym available in the WPIAL. Yes, it’s probably off the beaten path, but if we put it in a place like Chartiers Valley, we’d have to turn away 400-500 more people, and there is nowhere for standing room like Bethel Park.”