Looks like New Canaan won’t get to christen the new Surf Club

The Surf Club (Strong Field is on the upper lefthand side) / via Panoramio

The Surf Club (Strong Field is on the upper lefthand side) / via Panoramio

Model view of the new and improved Surf Club (via strongcentersurfclub.org)

Model view of the new and improved Surf Club (via strongcentersurfclub.org)

Thursday morning saw a relatively significant change to the Week 1 schedule.

The epic Hand-New Canaan matchup on Sept. 12 will not — repeat — not be played at Madison’s legendary Surf Club.

The schedule has switched the site to Daniel Hand High School’s turf field, Thursday morning.

The Surf Club’s athletics park is at the end of a year-long reconstruction project which will modernize and mold the facilities into the ‘Strong Center at the Surf Club.’ According to Dave Phillips of the Shoreline Times, the complex’s new bleachers won’t be installed in time for the Sept. 12 opener.

Seeing that a massive crowd is expected to attend this clash of SCC/FCIAC heavyweights, the lack of bleachers would kind of pose a problem.

But, wait a second, the high school field doesn’t have significant bleachers, either.

Maybe the new Surf Club just isn’t ready. (We’re working on figuring this out).

Either way, it’ll be standing room only when New Canaan comes to town Week 1.

Yes, you should be bummed out about this. Not just because sight lines will be a serious issue for a game of this magnitude, but because any chance to watch at game at the Surf Club is golden.

For the uninitiated, The Surf Club is a town park which lies off a narrow strip of road on a gorgeous piece of land off Long Island Sound in Madison. Strong Field, which lies across the access road from the field house, has been home to Hand’s football team for ages.

It has a reputation for being one of the best home field advantages in the state thanks to its rabid community support, the bone-chilling wind whipping off the Sound in late November, and (of course) it’s championship caliber football program.

Few opponents play at the Surf Club and live to tell the tale.

Since December, the complex has been undergoing a massive renovation, with field turf replacing grass, new stands, a gaudy pavilion lined with donor bricks and other amenities.

In other words, it’ll look a lot like New Canaan’s Dunning Field, fitting since the two schools are strikingly similar in size, demographics and championship pedigree.

Alas, Hand’s ‘evil’ twin won’t get the chance to inaugurate the field.

This development pushes back the official Strong Center at the Surf Club opener to Sept. 27 vs. Wilbur Cross.

Sean Patrick Bowley

21 Responses

  1. Josh Boone says:

    So going to where bleachers won’t be ready to a field with No Bleachers? makes sense, just move it to Dunning, I heard the field will be ready by September 12th there.

  2. They have ‘some’ bleachers. But yea, nothing significant.

    We have a call out to get to the bottom of this.

  3. perspective says:

    I am not supposed about the unfortunate news, I spoke to some people from Madison regarding the work a few weeks ago and they said the project encountered financial shortcomings when it came to the bleachers, bummer as I was looking forward to seeing the new Surf Club for this tilt. Agree with Josh, why not just move it to NC because it really is a joke to play any legitimate varsity football game, aside from the Pequot league, at a field with little or no bleachers. I have been to games under this type of arrangement at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury, Brookfield and Oxford and it is impossible to enjoy the game without trying to nudge in along the fence or first row of people. Considering Madison’s rabid support of Hand football, and the long drive for NC people, the gold coaster’s won’t even be able to glimpse sight of the action on the field. Move it to Dunning, an awesome and entirely capable venue in its own right.

  4. I’d like to see a move, too. Hand’s got six home games, what’s one less in an 11-game season? Especially since it won’t be at the Surf Club, anyway.

    However, New Canaan’s got six home games already. Maybe balance it out by moving that Chicopee game up to Mass for this year.

    idk, just spitballing.

  5. hoop says:

    switching locations next month is the most sensible answer. and keep in mind that the teams play again in 2014, so NC can enjoys the sights and sounds of the Surf Club next season. with perhaps 3,000-5,000 at this game, you’ll have to be at the field by 4pm just to get along the fence, or sit with Sean in the press box!

  6. No pressbox dwellers here

  7. art brown says:

    the game really should be moved. play in madison next year. don’t deprive quite a large group of fans the opportunity to enjoy the game. also, uconn is having a few open practices. if they had any sense at all, they would have a practice in southern ct. to possibly create an interest in their team down here which is now basically non-existent.

  8. Mayor McCheese says:

    I agree with Art about UConn. They don’t care about getting fans in Fairfield County. Same goes for the basketball program. IF they don’t care about us, why shuld we bother to support those teams?

  9. ciacfollower says:

    Switching the sight to Dunning would probably turn out to be a blessing for Hand since it’s facing huge “let down” pressure with it’s first game on their brand new field and with the glaring target on their backs. They have a pretty good history of doing well on the road for marque games.

  10. Ryan says:

    I disagree about UConn, you should support them because they are Connecticuts flagship university. How far of a trip is it to East Hartford? 1-1 1/2 hours? That’s really not far, in a state like Georgia, there are fans of UGA everywhere, not just around Athens. You think a college team should get on a bus and drive down to have a practice? Some people in Fairield county, not all, act like the rest of the state doesn’t exist and it’s comments like the one above that furthers that belief. Uconn is in Storrs and plays half their home games in greater Hartford…not Siberia.

  11. CT Football Fan says:

    I agree 100% with Ryan. U should support Uconn and there programs for the love of the school and the history and pride of the program. Makes no sense for them to bus there kids all over to show off a practice or two…give me a break. you can get from end to end in this state in 2 hours. comments like that make me realize why we are losing our top in state talent to other schools. no support or love from there own state and fans.

  12. Cousin Dupree says:

    Also agree with Ryan. Fans go to the school/stadium to support their teams. Teams don’t travel to their fans. Mayor McCheese and fellow Fairfield County fans can get in their Mercedes and drive 1 1/2 hours like the rest of us.

    If you’re not willing to go a short distance to support a team, you’re really not a fan.

  13. T says:

    does not matter where the game is played, hand will dominate.

  14. Josh Boone says:

    ^ Haha.

  15. Bubba says:

    Hand won’t give up a home field for NC. They would play in the parking lot if they had to. Fans wont like it, but if they win, they will get over it quickly.

  16. gasman19 says:

    Lets see now, a midweek marquee matchup, with no stands for the spectators and contractor hasn’t finished turf yet. Website says still short of funding to complete the project. Is this the way to showcase two top programs ? Is it fair to the families who are watching from field level? C’mon Madison and Hand, this is 2013, not the 1960’s.

  17. Hand alum says:

    Callin their bluff on this one, nobody fret, there’s no chance this game doesn’t get played at the surf club. The turf is nearly complete. There’s no bleachers at the high school, so they aren’t going to move it there just because there’s no bleachers at the surf club, that would make no sense. Plus Fillippone hates playing anywhere but the surf club, after the last time they played at the high school last year he said he’d never do it again. It’s a bluff to try and get people to donate more money to the strong center project because the project hasn’t been funded as well as they had hoped. Dissapointing for such an affluent town. Even less of a chance of this game being moved to NC. Fillippone would retire before he let that happen. Go Tigers

  18. @HandAlum – Makes perfect sense to me.

  19. Tiger Supporter says:

    I heard the press box would not be complete, and obviously you need the bleachers to support the stucture of a press box. So its more than the bleachers. Bathrooms, concesssion, etc. Hand has the school overlooking the field, it’s perfect for the press, video, and eye in the sky, and they have movable bleachers, more parking, so it’s still a great venue..

  20. ??? says:

    Maybe Hand does not want to open the new field with a loss so they are delaying completion…