Star-Bulletin Sports


It’s business as usual
for Islanders and af2
despite shorter field

An exemption was made
so Hawaii fans can witness
pro football; the record kick
will be investigated

By Nick Abramo

It has been nearly 30 years since the making of "The Longest Yard," so maybe it's time for Burt Reynolds to come to Hawaii for the lead role in "The Shortest Yard."

The Hawaiian Islanders and arenafootball2 aren't concerned that the Blaisdell Arena field is only 40 yards long from goal line to goal line, instead of the prescribed 50.

Team and league officials are saying the Islanders wouldn't be here at all if they weren't able to deviate from the norm.

"Rather than force the issue and insist on regulation size, we would rather make an exception so they can play," Jerry Kurz, an arena football founder and former Islanders general manager, said yesterday by phone from the af2's league office in Chicago. "They don't have a building that can hold a regulation field, and if we told them they couldn't play, that would be wrong for the fans."

Kurz said exemptions on field size are not easily granted.

"It depends on the market," he added. "The league looks at whether the market will support a team. And in the case of Honolulu, with many local guys on the team, we thought most definitely a team would be supported. It's a market hungry for football. You've got to work with what you have."

One league official, who asked not to be identified, said some other fields in the league aren't regulation size.

"I've been to some fields and noticed tape on the first-down chains and wondered why it was there," the official said. "I found out they used the tape to tie some links together to make it shorter. They were smart in Hawaii. They just took some of the links out."

According to Jay Marcus, the af2 executive director, last Saturday's record-breaking 63-yard field goal probably won't stand. The long kick by Tulsa's Tony Dodson in a 70-42 victory over the Islanders was actually about 50 yards.

"We go to each venue once a year, so we'll come in and fully measure the field, look at the film for where they spotted the ball, investigate and determine the actual yardage of the field goal," Marcus said.

The league probably won't adjust other past and future statistics to accommodate for the Blaisdell measurements, he said. Most likely, they'll review yardage questions if it has a tangible bearing on a record, as in the Dodson field-goal case.

So, in a nutshell, one Blaisdell hash mark is officially one yard even though it measures about 29.6 inches instead of 36.

All of this is small potatoes to Islanders director Carl Vincenti, who said Sunday that the short field doesn't hinder the af2 product. To him, it's obvious the yardage discrepancy doesn't take away from Darrell Jones' shifty returns, the elegant arc of Darnell Arceneaux's downfield passes or the blows dished out by Phil Austin, the Paogofie brothers or any of the other Islander defenders.

"We're committed to having a professional football team here," Vincenti said. "We've got a financial commitment to the league for three years and we have a five-year business plan, and that commitment is regardless of how much money we make or lose.

"We're here for the community. Our ownership group would like to have additional af2 teams here along with an Arena Football League (one level up) team. We're going to have youth programs, we'll be working with adult leagues, and we're becoming a training ground to the Japanese market. The league looks at us as the steppingstone to Asia."

To Vincenti, the measurements gone awry aren't going to block the road to these goals.

He said that if fan support warranted it, the owners would build a new, bigger arena for the Islanders.

Hawaiian Islanders

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