New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Stadium issues force some teams to hit the road
Football coaches love firing up their teams by saying things like “we will play anyone, anywhere.”
Turns out, Ridgefield and Greenwich are going to put that adage to the test this coming Saturday.
With Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich undergoing renovations and Tiger Hollow in Ridgefield having new turf installed and the two football teams are going to meet in the middle.
Greenwich will travel 13 miles and Ridgefield 16 miles to play what counts as a Greenwich home game at Dunning Field in New Canaan Saturday afternoon, according to the coaches, though the CIAC schedule has yet to change.
“It doesn’t matter to us where we play,” Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan said. “It does not change anything for us other than a trip to New Canaan is a little less time on the bus than going to Greenwich. Saturday day games are a little different, we obviously play a lot of Friday night games. Other than that, this is a normal road game for us.”
That game was originally scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.
New Canaan has a scheduled home game Friday night against McMahon at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile in Wilton, the damage done to the newly refurbished stadium by the remnants of Hurricane Ida is still being evaluated by town officials, leaving Wilton’s scheduled Friday night home game against Ludlowe in question.
The plan for that game, should the stadium not be ready, is to move it to Saturday at Weston High School, five miles away from Wilton’s campus.
The issues in Wilton were a result of an overflow of infill in the area behind the home bleachers.
The overflow flooded the stadium turf and the brand new $973,300 Wilton High School track replacement project, which was completed and unveiled in August.
“It flooded the stadium and the new track quite severely, like something I’ve never seen down there before,” Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce told Hearst Connecticut. A similar issue arose in 2008, Pierce recalled, but not to the magnitude that his department is dealing with now.
In a statement released Thursday, Wilton officials said the track and field in the stadium will remain closed as it is restored.
Guilford is in a similar boat to Ridgefield with turf replacement taking longer than expected at its stadium.
Guilford’s scheduled home football game last week against Law was played at North Branford High School.
The CIAC schedule for Guilford has the team at home against East Lyme on Oct. 8, but there is no word yet on whether the field will be ready by then.
In Greenwich, Cardinal Stadium is getting longawaited renovations and is not ready as the season begins.
Teams can play on the turf at Cardinals Stadium, but the bleachers and press box construction is still ongoing.
That will force Greenwich to play at least two home games at other sites: Saturday against Ridgefield and Oct. 2 against Fairfield Prep.
The hope is to have the new stadium ready for the home game Oct. 30 against New Canaan.
“When I saw the schedule come out and with the stadium renovations still ongoing, I knew we’d probably be on the road for the first six games.” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said.
With Ridgefield’s field not ready for opening day, the Tigers moved their scheduled home opener against Stamford from last week to what was supposed to be its bye week, Oct. 8.
The Tigers are supposed to open at home Friday, Sept. 25 against Xavier in an Alliance game at 7 p.m.
That game is now scheduled to be played on Tiger Hollow II, which is adjacent to the main field but lacks bleachers.
Callahan said the plan is to move temporary bleaches to Tiger Hollow II and put scissor lifts for coaches to get a birds eye view of the field.
“We are not hopeful for a home game on the stadium field until November,” Callahan said. “The JV and freshmen will have to move some games but varsity plans to play our home games at home. The field not being ready has not affected us too much. We have to move around some practice times and work with the other fall sports to coordinate who goes early and who goes later. But we are collaborating and everyone is playing nice so that has not been an issue.”