UPDATE: And a fast-developing story today just gets weirder and weirder.
FCIAC executive secretary John Kuczo just confirmed that the league has voted to move the Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving Day game between Darien and New Canaan to Boyle Stadium in Stamford. “We just made the decision,” he said when I called at 3:30 before our mobile connection was cut off.
A follow-up call was not returned. But at 3:32, the CIAC website confirmed the move, which must be approved by both schools to take effect.
The decision, first reported by the website of the Darien Times this afternoon, apparently has been made amid vehement protests by the New Canaan football program.
Here’s the briefing on Ramfootball.com which was posted as of 2:45 p.m. Monday. It’s a brief that is soaked with hardcore resistance from the New Canaan program and expresses outrage that coach Lou Marinelli was being pressured to change the game — New Canaan’s last home game of the year — to Boyle Stadium.
Anyway, here’s the note that appeared on the New Canaan football site as this story developed.
Game Location Update
(as of 11/24/08 at 2:45pm)
Nov. 24, 2008 – All 4,000 of the “advanced sale” tickets made available have been sold, and Dunning can probably hold another 500 people, especially if additional bleachers are brought in. Coach Marinelli was told that the decision to move the game was entirely his, but that agreement seems to be changing. Darien has petitioned the FCIAC to move the game to Boyle Stadium, and there is very heavy pressure being put on the Rams’ coach to give up his home field so that more tickets can be sold.
It should be noted that New Canaan has only had 4 home games this season – Darien has had 6. New Canaan was sent on the road for 6 straight weeks of away games – Darien was never away from home for more than 1 week.
Update (6:52 p.m.): Then this addendum appeared below the preceding paragraph at 5 p.m.
That said… The Rams are very comfortable on the road… and making us drive to Stamford won’t change the final outcome for Darien.
And here’s the press release from Dave Stewart, who also writes for New Canaan Advertiser and Maxpreps.com:
Due to the overwhelming interest in this week¹s FCIAC championship football
game between New Canaan and Darien, the contest will be moved from New
Canaan to Stamford High School¹s Boyle Stadium. The move was made to
accommodate a greater number of fans from both towns.
Game time is 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Stay tuned please, this could get ugly.
An aside (4:04 p.m.): Personally, while I understand the FCIAC’s intervention to get more bodies in to see this high-profiled game and avert the sellout, this decision is being made far too late by the league.
Taking away a CIAC regular season home game — which is New Canaan’s fifth and potentially last game of the season — and forcing New Canaan to play at a neutral site just because the game has “FCIAC championship” attached to it is wrong. This should have been decided before the season, and differently.
Boyle Stadium does solve the crowd problem (somewhat) — an extra 1,000 – 1,500 can fit into the Depression-era stadium which can seat approximately 6,000. But this is still a regular season game. It counts toward the CIAC standings. Taking it away would give New Canaan a grand total of four — three played at the start of the year. And that’s not right.
The league’s schedule makers already forced New Canaan to play six straight games on the road, now they want New Canaan to give up a home game?
That’s unfair. Their senior-day ceremonies, inconsequential to neutral observers but always important to families, now have to be scrapped. And what about the gate and the thousands to be made in concessions? Not sure about what they agreed on, but every dime should go back to New Canaan.
And then, of course, there’s the traditional advantage of just playing at home. It was New Canaan’s turn to host Darien in this yearly regular-season rivalry. It was just blind luck that it happened to involve an FCIAC championship pitting two unbeaten teams. The league already stipulates that a championship pitting two Thanksgiving opponents is moved to the Thanksgiving Day game
Now the league can just step in and change that three days before game time?
Here’s good question: Who gets this game next year? It has to be New Canaan, right?
I know this is a tough call, and it makes sense on some levels. But this can’t be a good decision by league’s brass. Not good at all.
The CIAC, which should have final say about games played under its umbrella, could have put its foot down and not let a league’s decision take precedence. Of course, the CIAC constantly proves itself unable and maybe even unwilling to rein in its impulsive and often misguided member leagues.
We’ll see how this plays out over the coming days. But it’s not going to be pretty.