BRIDGEPORT — Instead of heading to the locker room at halftime, members of the Harding football team have gotten used to regrouping in a nearby hallway that leads to the field. Visiting teams, for the most part, have retreated to one of two end zones.
These days, there’s only so many places to go at Kennedy Stadium.
While the city races to complete a state-of-the-art renovation project at Central High School, the stadium that Bridgeport’s three public high school football teams call home has been without electricity for weeks.
“We knew that power was lost and it was going to be until mid-October,” Harding football coach Eddie Santiago said. “It’s been a bit more prolonged and they haven’t fixed the situation.”
Generators power only the scoreboard and a portion of the press box. There is no public address system, and the stadium lights are inoperable, forcing the three schools to move their home games to Saturday afternoons.
“We want to make sure that our kids get home games,” Bridgeport citywide athletic director Chris Johnson said. “That was our biggest thing, was giving the kids an opportunity to play in their own city.”
Despite the lack of electricity, Johnson said he never considered moving home games to different sites in part because of the field turf that was installed in 2015.
“From a safety perspective, in terms of when the kids are out there competing, we want them to be on the best surface possible,” he said. “That’s Kennedy Stadium.”
Alan Wallack, Bridgeport’s school construction coordinator, said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting that the plan is to have electricity restored at Kennedy Stadium by the end of the month. In the meantime, the teams that use the facility, which is run by the city, are trying to make the best of the situation.
“We’ve been doing it for a long, long time through much, much more adversity,” said Santiago, whose team used to play its home games at run-down Hedges Field next to the high school. “Our kids, we’ve played in this type of environment before. We want to overcome that and just stick with what’s important.”
Wilton coach Bruce Cunningham, whose team defeated Central 40-14 at Kennedy Stadium on Oct. 14, said Monday that he understands the frustrations of the city’s schools.
“I feel bad for them,” Cunningham said. “That’s not fair to them. I’m not going to get into politics, but I just don’t think that’s fair to kids.”
North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said that when his team played Harding at Kennedy Stadium — a 54-35 Indians win on Sept. 16 — none of their sideline equipment worked, including headsets, iPads and an end zone camera. But he added, “I wouldn’t accuse the stadium. It could’ve just been an anomaly on that day.”
Next time North Haven visits, the lights should be back on.