Questions abound about the feasibility of continuing to play the CIAC football championships at Rentschler Field.
It isn’t cost effective. With the use of the stadium come inherent costs due to extended police presence and administrative staff. When 4,500 people attend a game in a stadium that seats 45,000, it should tell the CIAC something. I’m tired of hearing how important it is to the kids to play there. It’s got to change.
In 2010, the CIAC revealed a $22,000 loss. According to the chatter I heard at the CIAC basketball championships Saturday, the losses were less in 2011, but not that much less. Given the economy, the cost of CIAC membership to the state’s school systems and the resentment in most towns to line-item increases in education budgets, a more austere program must be in the offing.
I remain adamant that some of the games should be held at New Britain’s Willow Brook Park.
It seats 10,000, which has proven to be more than enough. It provides adequate amenities for everybody. Parking is plentiful if you consider the lots that surround the high school. It is centrally located.
The City of New Britain, the Parks and Recreation Department in particular, has a reputation for commanding a high price, which is why the CIAC abandoned Willow Brook for the soccer championships for Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium in 2007. It’s also why we never see the baseball championships held there, so I doubt football would be any different.
But the CIAC won’t consider Willow Brook anyway with the primary fear being that the weather could make the field unplayable. While the Parks and Rec may charge too much, it does deserve credit for maintaining the playing surface. There’s a reason why Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution come back so often to host Open Cup matches.
The more likely solution is to utilize college venues. Southern Connecticut State’s Jess Dow Field is perfect. So is Central Connecticut’s Arute Field. That’s more than I can say about using West Haven High’s Ken Strong Stadium.
Basketball is another story.
Mohegan Sun Arena is a great venue, although the rent-a-cop security tends to be a little overzealous. The concern about having high school games on the grounds of the casino is passé.
Fans couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere. The media couldn’t ask for better amenities, and let me tell you that my colleagues need that sort of consideration more than ever. The way the publishing companies see it, nobody desires a well-written story anymore. Gifted writers now need to be photographers, videographers and computer zealots in order to keep their low-paying jobs.
The basketball season concluded Saturday. Winning and losing aside, the fans in attendance appeared to truly enjoy their experience. The kids enjoyed playing there. The media had what it needed.
I watched two good games. Hillhouse squandered an early lead and lost to St. Joseph-Trumbull in the Class LL title game that had all but the upper reached of the arena filled. Northwest Catholic, inept for three quarters, waged an impressive comeback but fell to Career-Magnet-New Haven in Class L.
Plus, I got to eat at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana, nearly completing my Pepe’s Connecticut circuit. I now have notches on my expanding leather belt from Pepe’s in New Haven, Manchester, Danbury and the Mohegan Sun. Perhaps one of my friends down Fairfield way will invite me to complete Ken’s Pepperoni, Mozzarella and Thin Crust Tour.