MOOSIC — On Wednesday afternoon, the RailRiders announced the formation of the inaugural RailRiders Bowl, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., between Abington Heights and Valley View.
Jeremy Ruby, the RailRiders executive vice president of operations, currently lives in the Valley View area and is an alum of the school. He also was at one time athletic director at Abington Heights. Ruby admitted he had been thinking about getting a football game at the stadium since he returned to the franchise two years ago.
“Knowing the programs and the dedication both schools are at running their programs I thought it would be a great starting point,” Ruby said. “It’s not only something we want for Oct. 4, 2014, it’s something we want for the next 20-30 years.”
Ruby said that no Wyoming Valley Conference teams will be approached about playing in the game for the next two years, because in addition to his ties to the two Lackawanna County programs, the Cougars and Comets have two of the biggest followings of any football team in all of District 2.
This will be a learning process for everyone involved, Ruby said. There is a lot to take care of before the teams take the field for what everyone hopes is the start of annual event that grows each year.
“If it’s Valley View and Abington the next two years, who’s to say it’s not two new teams in 2016 and 2017,” he said. “We haven’t guaranteed anything beyond the first two seasons.
“I’m assuming after this first game is over and done with, we’re going to have several discussions with all area schools, all Wyoming Valley Conference, all Lackawanna Football Conference. It’s just something we feel like with the magnitude of this game we think it’s going to develop into something that a lot of schools are going to want to take part in.”
There has been a two-year agreement with the teams since the high school football schedule runs in two-year cycles. This game will mark the first time since 2005 that a football game of any sort will be held at PNC Field prior to the New York Yankees taking over the organization from the Philadelphia Phillies late in 2006. During the previous tenure, there were high school, college and semi-pro games held at the venue.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful partnership with the schools here,” RailRiders vice president and general manager Rob Crain said. “I have to give all of the credit to Jeremy Ruby. He’s the one that really put this thing together.
It will also mark the first time that a football game will be held at the stadium since natural grass replaced the artificial turf in 2007. The stadium also received a multi-million dollar renovation in 2012, but the field dimensions are still the same meaning the field can be lined for football the same way as it previously had been with the sideline running down the first base line to the right field corner.
Crain also added that the RailRiders will create some sort of trophy for the winning team, but that’s in the early stages. Tickets for the RailRiders Bowl will go on sale Friday morning at 10.
“This is incredible as we continue to make PNC Field the front porch of our community with special events like this,” Crain said. “What an exciting time. We couldn’t be more thrilled to host football here.”