MARQUETTE - Hosting one high school football playoff game is hard enough. Having three play at the Superior Dome in Marquette in one day is even more difficult.
"I usually don't sleep well the night before," said Carl Bammert, Northern Michigan University's associate athletic director of facilities.
The Dome will be Saturday's site for three MHSAA state semifinal games featuring Beal City vs. Forest Park at 10 a.m. in Division 8, Harbor Beach vs. Ishpeming at 1 p.m. in Division 7 and Muskegon Oakridge vs. Menominee at 4 p.m. in Division 5.
Ishpeming High School football fans pack the stands and surround the sidelines during the first of two MHSAA football state semifinal games played back-to-back on Nov. 17, 2012 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. This year, the Superior Dome will host an MHSAA state semifinals triple header with games scheduled to start at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday. (Journal file photo by Matt Wellens)
The decision to play all three state semifinals was made by MHSAA assistant director Nate Hampton, who did give one school the option to play Friday night, Bammert said,
"Beal City was given the option to play Friday night, but they wanted to play on Saturday for travel purposes," Bammert said.
"We've had three games here in one day before, but fewer times than in previous years," he added, "with the highest-seeded teams now having the option to host games through the regionals."
Bammert said the MHSAA pays NMU $1,500 per game for rental of the Dome. Ticket receipts after that total go to the state organization.
Revenue from concessions, parking and program sales go to NMU.
Pat Black, the director of the Marquette County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said the three games at the Dome will "absolutely impact the local area (financially)."
"November is one of the quietest months of the year for tourism," she said. "Everything comes to a standstill.
"But these three games will see fans using area hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
"This will be a nice economic boost," she added. "It will surely help the local economy."
Bammert said 15 Northern students - not including concession workers - work one shift each. Some will split their shift Saturday, working football early and then the NMU hockey game at 7:07 p.m. at the adjacent Berry Events Center.
Each of the Dome's three concession stands will be staffed by seven student employees each. Still more students will roam through the stands selling popcorn and bottled drinks.
Bammert couldn't estimate how many man hours are spent preparing for each game, but he did say a lot of the work is done ahead of time.
"We have to make the programs, get referees and a chain crew, find a game announcer, a clock operator and a scoreboard operator," he said.
"There's a lot of work involved."
Information packets put together by Bammert and his staff are also sent to the athletic directors at each participating school to make for a smooth experience for the teams and their fans.
"It feels good when it's over, but we accomplish a lot," Bammert said. "We get people into the (Dome) and give parents a view of the university."