Football finals on the move?

The CIAC's football committee has discussed moving its football championship games out of Rentschler Field with Central Connecticut State being the most likely destination.

The Norwich Bulletin was the first to report the story.

Paul Hoey, the CIAC's executive director, told the Bulletin that the CIAC lost $38,000 on December's four games. Hoey later told the Hartford Courant that the figure "about $20,000."

Hoey could not be reached for comment.

Rentschler has played host to the CIAC finals the last three seasons. The two pared down expenses after the first year in order to make it more financially feasible.

The finals haven't drawn enough fans to the stadium. Norwich Free Academy and Xavier drew 4,576 for last December's Class LL championship on Friday night, Dec. 7.

The three title games played the next day drew a total of 5,189. All three years, fans could buy one ticket and see all three Saturday games.

Ledyard High School football coach Jim Buonocore, who's on the football committee, enjoyed playing the 2011 Class M final at Rentschler.

"The experience at Rentschler was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience for the players," Buonocore said. "It was a destination for the kids in terms of where they wanted to be at the end of the season.

"I think they enjoyed the overall experience in terms of the lead-up, the luncheon, the overall atmosphere of being in a first-class locker room prior to the game, walking down that tunnel and playing in a Division I stadium."

There were some other downsides to playing at Rentschler. It has a grass field, so there's always been a fear if it rained or snowed.

Rentschler has also been cavernous with only a few thousands in attendance.

Central Connecticut's Arute Field would be attractive to the CIAC as it has an artificial surface, and the addition of stands opposite the press box side give it a 5,800 seating capacity.

The Courant reported that Central submitted a proposal to the CIAC, and that the latter will tour the facilities before the committee's March 6 meeting.

"We've played state championships at other venues," Buonocore said. "I think that the game is the ultimate thing within itself. That's what you remember when all is said and done.

"Whatever is the final decision made by the committee, I think it will be the best decision at that point and time. The bottom line is playing for a state championship I think playing at Rentschler added a little bit to it, but Central Connecticut, which has been discussed, is a first-class facility. I think it would be a great place to play, and I think there are a number of places that would do a great job of hosting the event as well."


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