CIAC moving state football finals from Rentschler Field to CCSU
Updated 5:57 pm, Friday, March 8, 2013
The CIAC confirmed Thursday it will move its state championship football games to Central Connecticut State University's Arute Field beginning in 2013.
The decision comes just as the CIAC's contract with UConn's Rentschler Field was up for renewal. The organization has held its state championships there for the past three seasons.
Arute Field recently completed a renovation of its facility, adding opposite-field seating to expand its capacity to approximately 5,500.
It also features a synthetic surface as opposed to Rentschler Field's grass turf, which was typically beat up by UConn's football season by December's championship weekend.
The capacity of Arute Field also aligns with the average attendance of the state finals, compared to the 40,000-seat Rentschler Field.
"The CIAC Football Committee is grateful to CCSU for their interest and support in hosting CIAC events," CIAC Assistant Executive Director Paul Hoey said in a statement. "CCSU is the perfect size to accommodate our spectators and creates an outstanding championship atmosphere. Their facility is one of the best in the state, and having a turf field available will allow for predictability with scheduling and field conditions."
While appearance and the synthetic move were factors, the move was made mainly for financial reasons. According to several reports in January, Hoey contended that the CIAC lost between $20,000-$38,000 during last season's four state finals. A source confirmed the CIAC lost $9,000 per game at Rentschler Field and added it will lose approximately half of that at Arute Field.
"I think it came down to money," said New Canaan High coach Lou Marinelli, a member of the CIAC football committee. "From a coach's perspective, I think many of the coaches enjoyed playing at Rentschler, the way they use the Carrier Dome in New York (for the high school state finals). But I also understand the finances of it. If we haven't met our financial commitments, that comes first."
CIAC football committee members toured CCSU last month and voted to approve the move at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
"Central Connecticut State University is extremely excited to partner with the CIAC in hosting their football championships beginning this fall," CCSU Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann said in a statement.
The Class LL state championship between Xavier and Norwich Free Academy, played on a Friday night, drew 4,576 fans, according to game statistics. Significantly less attended were the Class S and Class M championship games on Saturday morning and afternoon.
The Class L title game between Hand and Windsor drew the second-best crowd of the weekend.
Total attendance for the Saturday games was 5,189, according to figures.
Staff writer Dave Ruden contributed to this story