The CIAC confirmed Thursday it will move its state championship football games to Central Connecticut’s Arute Field beginning in 2013.
The decision comes just as the CIAC’s contract with Rentschler Field was up for renewal. The organization has held its state championships there for the past three seasons.
Arute Field recently completed a renovation of its facility, adding opposite-field seating to expand its capacity to approximately 5,500.
It also features a synthetic surface as opposed to Rentschler Field’s grass turf, which was typically beat up by UConn’s football season by December’s championship weekend.
The capacity of Arute Field also aligns with the average attendance of the state finals, compared to the 40,000-seat Rentschler Field.
“The CIAC Football Committee is grateful to CCSU for their interest and support in hosting CIAC events,” CIAC Assistant Executive Director Paul Hoey said in a statement.
“CCSU is the perfect size to accommodate our spectators and creates an outstanding championship atmosphere. Their facility is one of the best in the state, and having a turf field available will allow for predictability with scheduling and field conditions.”
While appearance and the synthetic move were factors, the move was mainly for financial reasons. According to several reports in January, Hoey contended that the CIAC lost between $20,000-$38,0000 during the last season’s four state finals. A source confirmed the CIAC lost $9,000 per game at Rentschler Field and added it will lose approximately half of that at Arute Field.
CIAC football committee members toured the facility last month and voted to approve the move at its monthly meeting Wednesday evening.
“Central Connecticut State University is extremely excited to partner with the CIAC in hosting their football championships beginning this fall,” CCSU Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann said in a statement. “This is an exceptional opportunity for our institution to showcase our beautiful campus and our premier athletics facilities to upwards of 10,000 parents, student-athletes and high school sports fans from all corners of the state.”
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.
Central Connecticut State hasn’t been used as a site since it hosted the Class M title game between Ledyard vs. Berlin in 2007.
“The Committee believes holding the championship games at Arute Field provides the best experience and atmosphere for our student-athletes and fans and makes the most sense for our organization at this time,” Hoey said in the statement. “Our relationship with Rentschler has been tremendous, and the decision to move to a new venue is not a reflection of any dissatisfaction with the people there or that experience.”
According to the Norwich Bulletin, which first reported the story on Thursday evening, the CIAC will now hold its annual championship week luncheon at the Aqua Turf in Southington.