Goodbye Rentschler? CIAC exploring venue change for state championships (again)

The NFA crowd at Rentschler Field moments before kickoff of the 2012 Class LL championship vs. Xavier on December 7, 2012. The game drew a total of 4,576 (the Xavier side was similar). The CIAC is considering moving its championship games out of Rentschler Field after three seasons. (Photo by Sean Patrick Bowley)

The North Branford crowd moments before kickoff of the Class S championship game with Ansonia on December 8, 2012. (Photo by Sean Patrick Bowley)

Too few fans. Too much overhead. A big shortfall.

That’s what the CIAC says is the problem with The Rent.

After just three years, the CIAC is thinking about abandoning East Hartford’s Rentschler Field as a football championship venue Marc Allard of the Norwich Bulletin reported today.

CIAC associate director Paul Hoey apparently dropped this bomb on the football committee’s monthly meeting on Wednesday at CIAC headquarters.

According to Hoey, the organization lost $38,000 from the four state title games and

The Ansonia crowd moments before kickoff of the Class S championship game against North Branford on December 8, 2012. More fans eventually would show up, but the side remained relatively sparse throughout the game. (Photo by Sean Patrick Bowley)

“the bills are still coming in,” the Bulletin writes.

Update: And now a follow-up report from the Hartford Courant quotes Hoey saying the figure is $20,000.

Either way, Hoey says, the organization is losing money on hosting the site at Rentschler Field.

“We rely on football to be a revenue-producing sport for us to help with those sports that don’t produce revenue, and we need to make money,” Hoey told Allard. “The management at Rentschler Field has been wonderful, but it just might be too big.”

With the Rentschler Field contract up for renewal this year, the CIAC is looking elsewhere. Central Connecticut State’s Arute Field, which recently expanded its capacity to 5,800, is the leading candidate, the Bulletin Reported.

The Class LL championship between Xavier and NFA, played Friday night, drew 4,576 fans, according to game statistics.

Significantly less attended the Class S and Class M championship games on Saturday morning and afternoon.

The Class L title game drew the second-best crowd of the weekend. Total attendance for the Saturday games was 5,189, according to figures.

The CIAC charges $10 for tickets for the two state championship days, suggesting the organization took in approximately $100,000 on ticket sales alone.

Benefits to making the switch is Arute Field’s artificial turf. Rentschler Field’s surface is grass, which is typically beat up by the UConn football season.

The Bulletin reported the committee members would tour Central’s facilities. No decision would be made until at least the next committee meeting, March 6.

The CIAC moved all of its state championships to Rentschler Field in 2010 when it revamped its state playoffs, reducing the championships from six to four but expanding the field to include a quarterfinals round (and 16 more teams).

Previously, the organization annually shuffled its sites between local high schools (like West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium, Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium and Trumbull’s McDougall Stadium) and state colleges.

Central Connecticut State, which originally had just one side of stands, hasn’t been used as a site since it hosted the Class M title game between Ledyard vs. Berlin in 2007.

That year was also the last time the CIAC used Southern Connecticut State’s Jess Dow Field.

Read the full story in the Norwich Bulletin.

Newly refurbished Arute Field on the campus of Central Connecticut State in New Britain. Opposite field stands were recently added to increase capacity to 5,800.

Sean Patrick Bowley