Think of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and what images pop into your mind?
Athletic warriors in track shoes or shoulder pads and helmets about to do battle for school, or country, or large paycheck. O.J. Simpson threading his way through an army of mammoth opponents. Marcus Allen leaping into the end zone. Rafer Johnson majestically carrying the Olympic torch.
Think of the Rose Bowl.
Momentous games, historic moments. Charles White almost single-handedly leading his team to victory. Terry Donahue raising his fist in triumph. All the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Huskies of the past.
Think of Notre Dame Stadium or the Cotton Bowl or the Orange Bowl or a thousand other spots where football games are played, and the thought of big plays and big days immediately come to mind.
Now think of the San Fernando Valley. Think of North Campus Stadium, home of the Cal State Northridge Matadors and what image comes to mind?
Went blank, huh? Come on, try again.
North Campus Stadium? Give me a break. Kind of sounds like a good place for a swap meet, doesn't it?
Now admittedly, a field like North Campus Stadium, capacity around 7,000, cannot and should not be compared to places like the Coliseum and Rose Bowl, capacities around 100,000, any more than Northridge football should be compared to the UCLA or USC programs.
But even San Jose State, a school CSUN would like to play, has 30,000-seat Spartan Stadium, the kind of place that sounds like it ought to be the site of something more exciting than a car show.
I bring all this up because we are on the brink of a new era at Northridge.
There's a new coach in Bob Burt, who takes over after the seven-year tenure of Coach Tom Keele. And a new attitude has replaced the dissension that accompanied years of losing.
A promotional campaign has been launched to lure fans to the games, to make Matador games a happening, to overcome the fact that little has happened there in the past.
There will even be a new look to North Campus Stadium with improved seats and other facilities, including lights that may stay on for an entire event without once failing, something else that would be new for North Campus.
And plans have been drawn for a 20,000-seat stadium for the Northridge campus. But we're talking three to five years down the road for that. And knowing how slowly some school projects move, that might be an optimistic estimate.
In the meantime, the Matadors are going to have to live with North Campus Stadium. But there's no reason why they have to live with that dull, boring name.
Why not at least come up with something that suggests football players in the heat of battle, something that inspires loud, boisterous crowds.
Can you get excited about packing the binoculars and the refreshments and heading for a wild tailgate party at some place called North Campus Stadium? No wonder the crowds have been so poor.
"What you call the stadium doesn't really matter to us," says Burt, who is understandably more concerned with figuring out how to sack the opposing quarterback and protect his own. "We'll line up in a cow pasture if that's where they want us."
If you've ever seen North Campus Stadium, he's not too far off.
"Once we get a new stadium," Burt says, "a new name would be of interest at that point. That will be our home forever. People from all over the county will be using it.
"What we ought to do is to find somebody who'll donate a couple of million dollars for the new stadium and we'll name it after him."
So Burt is obviously going to be no help in dealing with the immediate problem.
Who needs him? We'll do it ourselves. Got a new name for North Campus Stadium? Send it to me, Steve Springer, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, Calif. 91311.
Maybe Northridge doesn't have a big-time home yet. But why not at least fool opponents and charm fans into thinking so? It's all image anyway, baby.
Help stamp out North Campus Stadium.