Globe editorial

Northeastern: A team’s inevitable fate

November 24, 2009

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Northeastern University officials have spiked the college’s football program after 74 seasons. It’s hard to argue with their logic. High costs, lack of fan interest, and inadequate facilities doomed the program. Boston University survived a similar decision to abandon football more than a decade ago. So will Northeastern.

The Huskies drew an average of just 1,600 fans to their home games at Parsons Field in Brookline, a venue better suited to high school play than Division I football. Northeastern students couldn’t be bothered to trek the roughly two miles from the main campus to the stadium. But it was always a good show for the bargain hunters of the Boston sports scene. An admission price of $12 ($6 for kids) put fans on top of the action. And to the less-discerning eye, the players appeared just as massive and talented as their counterparts at the more prestigious, bowl-eligible programs, such as Boston College. Even when the team struggled, the acrobatic cheerleaders were always in top form.

There’s no crying in football. But there is a nagging feeling that this story might have ended differently. In 2007, the Kraft family, which owns the New England Patriots, eyed an empty parcel in Roxbury as a site for a professional 20,000-seat soccer stadium. Nearby Northeastern, which was hunting for a new football stadium, would have made a natural partner in the venture. But for the usual reasons in Boston - failure to get on the right side of the Menino administration and potential neighborhood opposition - the stadium idea never gained momentum. It was only a matter of time before the Huskies lost their turf.