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

19 Responses

  1. GolfFan says:

    CIAC official, “We need to make money”… I guess high school sports isn’t about the kids after all.

  2. Steve Knight says:

    SPB – One of the finalists for the Maloney job is Jim Caouette. He is a longtime NVL assistant. He has coached at Wolcott, Woodland, Wilby, Cheshire and Westconn.

  3. fciacfan says:

    As much as no one probably wants to admit it, the CIAC has to look at finances when it comes to championships. I am sure the revenue generated from events like football and basketball go a long way toward offsetting the costs of lower revenue sports. So, to lose $28,000 on football would have to have an effect on other championships, I would think.

    To move the championships games to CCSU, which is a Division 1 school, with turf, lights, and right off Route 9 might be a move in the right direction. Yes, they are much smaller venue, but I think would make for a great atmosphere if it were packed with fans and loud. Rentschler is a great facility, and a great thrill for players and coaches to play at that stadium, but when you look at the picture above of the Ansonia crowd, there are a ton of empty seats. (And, that is not designed to be a knock on Ansonia — their program speaks for itself…..) The CIAC has to look at something like that and think”…….we are losing our shirt here………” Whether we like it or not, there is a business aspect here….

  4. These numbers from CIAC don’t add up. How does one lose $38,000 when it made approximately $100,000 on ticket sales. They’re saying they had $138,000 in expenses?

    I don’t think a two-day rent, plus two-days salary for security, cops and maintenance covers this. What other expenses could they have? — questions I intend to ask.

  5. BIGS says:

    I would rather see a larger crowd at a smaller venue than a small crowd at a larger venue. As long as there is enough seats on both sides to fit everyone. As for making money,the CIAC is for all sports male and female. Making money on football helps all the programs which is about the kids.

  6. Josh Boone says:

    They should have the same day setup, and just make regional sites, that are equidistant to both schools. just like how Trumbull was used for NC-Darien a few Years ago. It’ll bring much more people to the games and create a much better atmosphere for future players. Having played in The Rent, its a dump, the place is so boring looking, all concrete everywhere, its just a bland place to play at. Having 8,000 at Trumbull, CCSU, UNH and it’ll create a more memorable experience for seniors possibly playing for the last time ever.

  7. mr fciac says:

    spb, the ciac blotted staff is where the money goes.
    Im surprised they didn’t move the game to Fla so they can
    get a few rounds of golf in

  8. GHS Fan says:

    I tend to agree with fciac fan about watching a packed game in a smaller place. The games at Renschler were sort of depressing. That place eats 5,000 people no problem. 5,000 people at a smaller venue makes for a livelier atmosphere.

  9. Ballfoot says:

    Number #1 you have to play on turf. The end of a long season, plus multiple games on the same day.

    Number #2 play were there are more people then there are empty seats.

    Number #3 play were the fan base for the teams can reach the venue under a half hour. More people will go..


  10. another fan says:

    I hope the games are closer to the 2 teams that are playing for the title, I went to the Rent for 1 game and it was very cool I loved the atmosphere but, the game was at night.There is no way I’m going to wake up at 7am to travel that far for a morning game when I can watch it on my computer with announcers doing play by play and color, plus I save $20 and gas money.Say what you want ,I don’t care!

  11. #90 says:

    “IF” it is about the kids, there is only one answer and that is “The Rent!” No ifs ands or buts. There are other arguments that are all valid, but don’t kid yourself for one second into believing that the kids would vote for any venue ahead of the Rent.

    SPB: Yes, please ask those tough questions and press. The Rent is up for new contract and UCONN may get involved. You’d think UCONN would like the idea from the viewpoint of developing its brand and promoting UCONN football. INdeed, maybe UCONN can help chip in. Can we go to the high school coaches and have them do a survey amongst the players to vote as between: 1) RENT; 2) CCSU; 3) Random sites? Let’s get the numbers and stick in the face of the CIAC and make them snub their noses at the kids. Let’s try and get Coach PP involved as well.

    I’ll bet we can make this great event even better with a committee, some private sector volunteer leadership, and by recruiting some of Conn’s past athletes to come back etc… Bring in some Youth football that weekend as well (let them in for free and make some $ on concessions). I’d like to know who is charging ANY rent for this event? Let’s shame them into giving-up the venue to celebrate high school athletes in Connecticut.

    THe high school coaches have come too far in the last 10 years to turn back now.

  12. Player says:

    as a Player, I would vote for CCSU, seeing a sellout would look 1000x better than going back to the Rent again. The Locker Rooms stink, the field is awful, but I must say, the All Concrete design is really eye catching, nothing is better than concrete all around and a lack of color

  13. #90 says:

    @Player: Nice try Player, but I’ve been around too many teenagers to fall for that one. No teenager writes like you. If you have confidence in your arguments then make them without deception.

    Let’s poll the kids to settle it. Wouldn’t be too hard.

  14. FRANK MULLA says:


  15. High School Football Fan says:

    This will turn into a big mess for the High School Football Fan. Capacity of 5800 @ CCSU will also be a problem if the weather is nice and the match ups are intriguing. I predict separate admissions for the Saturday lineup which would mean emptying the Stadium between games and overall causing be a BIG Mess with Start times,Parking Issues,Etc..They quote the revenue for the gate,how about all the great sponsors they rave about and all their signs plastered all over this event ?
    How does Massachusetts play some of their Titles @ Foxboro without all this whining ?

  16. Fan says:

    Because Gillette is a top notch stadium compared to the POS that The Rent is

  17. Referee says:

    I have to question how the CIAC “loses” any amount of $. There were 28 total games from quarters to championships where the price of a ticket is $10 and CIAC gets the gate. They get a piece of the 10 conference championship games as well. I’m sure there are lots of expenses I am unaware of(do they cover the busses for the member schools?)but did they actually lose money, or was the gate less than anticpated/budgeted?

    and @ #15….The Rent ain’t Foxboro by any stretch!!

  18. Kent says:

    Guys, I think I might agree if it’s about kids it should be at Rent(or at least according to what I see on this blog). BUT…if CIAC starting lose money so that we ended up cancelling other sports it’s not exactly benefiting the kids is it?

    As for are those expenses CIAC claimed to have legit or not is not exactly a problem most of us could have answered.

  19. @Referee – I think you got it right. It’s not what they wanted, aka: “loss”