Teams scramble for possession of lockers
By ROBERT BRAUCHLE
TIMES STAFF WRITER
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2009
A fight between competing football teams has spilled from the county court to City Hall. The Watertown Red and Black and the Watertown Revolution are now feuding over use of the city's locker rooms at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
The Red and Black has used the lockers exclusively during Empire Football League season for more than a decade. The newly created Revolution are now asking that the lockers — which are owned by the city and rented to the teams — be cleared and available when it hosts games.
"I don't see how the locker room is big enough for two teams," Red and Black head coach George Aschraft told the City Council earlier this week. "If that's what we have to do then we'll try it, but I just don't see this as being a workable thing."
The council unanimously approved a contract with the Red and Black on Monday night for use of the locker room until March 2011. The contract, however, stipulates that the Red and Black must share the space.
The Revolution's general manager, Thomas J. Shultz, is asking for a similar contract from the city. The team, which completed its inaugural season last summer, used the nearby municipal arena locker rooms.
Mr. Shultz's request might not be as well received.
The contract approved by the city keeps roughly a third of the available room exclusively for the Red and Black to store equipment and uniforms.
The city will have to spend about $1,500 to install a lockable door to secure that equipment while other teams use the locker rooms.
"I recommend that if we go forward with another contract, and another team causes increased cost, then let them incur cost of installing the metal door," Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said.
Councilman Peter L. Clough said he agreed with Mr. Smith.
"It would just seem to me that if there's going to be a flash point to this, that flash point would occur April 20 when the other contract comes before us," Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said.
Mr. Shultz said he felt hamstrung by the council's actions.
"We're only going to be allowed to use half the lockers," he said Tuesday. "The city didn't give us much consideration between the two teams. They're biased for the Red and Black, which I understand, but we were just hoping that when the lockers weren't being used that we could use them."
The Red and Black's contract still makes a portion of the locker rooms and showers available to the Revolution.
The teams' mutual enmity began in January 2008 when Mr. Shultz filed an application with the Northeast Football Alliance for a team named the Red and Black. The move contested the legitimacy of the Red and Black team coached by Mr. Ashcraft.
A state Supreme Court judge ruled two months later that the team headed by Ashcraft has the exclusive right to use the Red and Black name.
Following the ruling, Mr. Shultz changed the nameof his newly created team to the Revolution.
Because the Red and Black play in the EFL and the Revolution play in the NFA, neither team will ever take out their frustrations with each other on the field. They may, however, be playing other teams on the same day within the city's limits. Both teams have games scheduled for June 27; both play their home games at the fairgrounds.
"This city is not big enough for two teams," Mr. Ashcraft said.