Bocce Wars

OK, maybe the headline is a tad misleading. When you think of war, you assume open hostility. What’s transpired between the Wickliffe Italian-American Club and the city of Mayfield Heights is more of a grit-your-teeth disdain.

After hosting the premier bocce tournament in Northeast Ohio for the past 16 years, the Wickliffe club faced new competition in 2007. Wayne Farinacci, who previously ran the Wickliffe tournament, approached his hometown of Mayfield Heights about organizing a bocce tournament during the city’s Unity Days celebration — an event that fell on the same August weekend as the Wickliffe club’s annual bocce tournament.

The Wickliffe club responded by attracting a car dealership to sponsor its event and offering a five-figure prize pool. The tournament retained its usual number of teams.

So this summer, Mayfield struck back by finding its own sponsor. Both tournaments offered $15,000 prize pools. But the usual crowd of 75 teams of four players were not split between the tournaments. Instead, entries doubled. Northeast Ohio attracted 150 teams.

So both cities won, right? Wrong.

Farinacci still says he wants Wickliffe to move its tournament next summer.

“Chances are that [Mayfield Heights] can’t move because [Unity Days] is such a big elephant,” he explains. “There are so many things attached to it, with carnival rides and bands and entertainment.”

Gino Latessa, who now runs Wickliffe’s tournament, takes a deep breath before addressing the issue.

“In all honesty, we are not going to move our date,” he says. “We’re going to keep it the same weekend that we’ve had for the past 17 years down here. Where the cards fall, they fall.”

Bocce war? OK, that may be a little too much. Let’s go with Operation Bocce Storm.
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