Grand National Championships move from RCA Dome
By Ken Martinson, Marching.com
Bands of America's storied history begins a new chapter November 12-15,
2008, when the Grand National Championships
move to a new home at the
Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. The championships were
previously held at the neighboring RCA Dome, which is being dismantled
to make room for a convention center expansion.
The move comes with both great excitement for the future and warm
sentiment for the past, according to Debbie Laferty
Asbill, director of marketing and communications at BOA's umbrella
organization, Music For All
"The RCA Dome was part of my professional life since 1985 and I truly
believe that much of the innovation in marching arts was focused in that
building," Laferty Asbill said. "That innovation will now carry on in
the new Lucas Oil Stadium."
The RCA Dome hosted the Grand National Championships from 1984 to 2007,
with the exception of two years (1987-1988) when the event was held in
the Pontiac Silverdome due to schedule conflicts. The 2008 move marks
the first new location for Grand Nationals in 20 years.
Bring On The Bands
The state-of-the-art Lucas Oil Stadium promises to serve fans and participants well for
many years. BOA sponsored a "Sound Check" in September which gave bands a
chance to experience the acoustics in the new facility and allowed
organizers to test the flow and logistics in the new venue.
The building made a strong first impression on Wayne Markworth, BOA judge
and former director at Centerville (Ohio) H.S., when he attended the
Sound Check event.
"It's a first-class venue," Markworth said. "For spectators, the building
is visually appealing, and everything is functional ... the layout,
entries, seating and concession areas. People I talked to said there was
an easy flow through the building."
Spectators will notice a large black curtain on the back side of
the field. The curtain creates a clean backdrop for the bands and helps
define the performance area as a "stage." Spectators will also notice a
different sound in the new venue.
"The acoustics are much better for the audience in Lucas Oil Stadium,"
Markworth said, noting the absence of the "bounce or ping" that could be
heard when sound interacted with the RCA Dome roof.
The stadium also provides opportunities for BOA to offer spectators new
seating options at Grand Nationals.
"'Club Experience' seating is in the stadium's club area, with roomier,
padded seats, access to the club lounges with exclusive concession and
restroom areas and prime viewing locations," Laferty Asbill said.
"Regardless of the level of seats, spectators experiencing Lucas Oil
Stadium for the first time are truly wowed by the spectacular interior
of the building."
Honoring The Tradition
In 2007 during the final Grand Nationals in the RCA Dome, Bands of
America invited former marching members to come back for a "Last Trip
Through The Airlock." The airlock refers to the series of enclosed
spaces bands went through to enter the performance field, which was
necessary to maintain air pressure required to inflate the dome roof.
The airlock event drew marching members of all ages, from Jonathan
Anderson who won a championship ring with Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) H.S.
the prior year, to Debra (Elingburg) Barbour who won the championship with
Rocky Mount (North Carolina) H.S. in 1984, the first year Grand
Nationals were held in the RCA Dome.
Smiles and memories flowed easily among the alumni who had gathered, and
it was evident that marching band had been a positive part of each
person's high school experience.
"The people I've kept in touch with and consider my best friends from
high school are all somehow related to band," Barbour said. "You spend
that many hours with people, and you can't help but have them be part of
Barbour brought several pieces of memorabilia, including her championship medals and the 1984 Grand
Nationals program book. The photos in the book triggered her to remember
that her marching career took place before the innovations of the "pit."
"There's a lot more on the sideline today," Barbour said. "When I marched,
everything had to move. We had a set of bells on the sideline but it was
played only for a moment."
Rocky Mount H.S. holds special distinction in Bands of America history.
The band was the first Grand National Champion in the RCA Dome. The band
had also won the championship the year before, which was the last time
the event was held at ETSU in Johnson City, Tennessee. Those wins in 1983-1984
meant the band was the first to win back-to-back championship titles.
Every Grand National Championships brings memories for the participants
and highlights for the spectators, but 2008 promises to be extra
special. Don't miss the first Grand Nationals in the beautiful new Lucas
For ticket and schedule information, view the Grand National Championships event profile on Marching.com, or visit MusicForAll.org.
Lucas Oil Stadium photos courtesy of Music For All. Airlock event photos by Marching.com.
Copyright 2008 Marching.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.
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