“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
NEW CANAAN - With the New Canaan-Darien Class L state championship scheduled to be played in New Britain on Saturday, a grass-roots push is underway to bring the game within reasonable driving distance of the rival teams' hometowns.
In 2008 the Blue Wave and Rams squared off on Thanksgiving with the FCIAC Championship on the line. It was more than just the Turkey Bowl. The demand for tickets was so high the game had to be moved from Dunning Field to Boyle Stadium.
The atmosphere was electric as more than 11,000 fans showed up at Boyle Stadium on Thanksgiving morning. It was reminiscent of a college game and was one of the most impressive spectacles seen at a high school football event in recent memory. The contest itself was a classic with the Rams jumping out to a big first-half lead, then holding on for dear life to ultimately win 28-20.
A few weeks later, the teams met in the finals of the Class MM State championship. This was played in Trumbull and although it attracted a nice crowd, it was nowhere close to the draw on Thanksgiving…even with arguably bigger stakes on the line. New Canaan would win that game as well, but somehow the 26-7 victory seemed anticlimactic. It was almost like watching the Pro Bowl.
There was some outcry back then about the game being held in Trumbull. That being said, the prospect of driving close to 120 miles round-trip has both towns pushing for this year's venue to be changed. It seems unanimous among players, coaches and fans that the CIAC should move the 2013 game from Central Connecticut State University's Arute Field to a more conducive site, closer to the participating towns.
Here is a message from the New Canaan Youth Football organization sent to parents this morning:
"The New Canaan Rams and the Darien Blue Wave football teams have asked the CIAC to move their Championship Game to a site in Fairfield County. It doesn’t make sense to ask two teams and their fans whose schools are five minutes apart to travel an hour away to play this huge game, especially when there are some terrific neutral sites so close (i.e. Boyle, Trumbull, Wilton). It’s understandable that the CIAC, who has a contract with the CCSU site, doesn’t want to lose money... but anyone who has ever been to a New Canaan-Darien football game (especially the 2008 FCIAC Championship Game at Boyle with 11,000+ fans in attendance) knows that, if the game is held locally, the crowd will be enormous (and the CIAC will more than come out ahead). While the New Canaan and Darien coaches have requested that the game be played locally, the CIAC needs convincing.
If you’d like to help encourage them to move the game to a site in Fairfield County, you can email them at:
Leroy Williams – CIAC Football Chairman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Hoey – CIAC Football Tournament Director – email@example.com"
I do wonder if there would be a similar reaction if the game was still played at UCONN's 40,000-seat Rentschler Field which hosted the title game the previous three seasons. The move to the 5,500-seat Arute Field was announced earlier this year.