HAMDEN >> When the Hamden High School football team faces Fairfield Prep on Oct. 30, it will be on a brand new football field.
Work is wrapping up on the replacement of the field, and officials are pleased with the results, both physical and fiscal.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with how it’s come out,” said Legislative Council President James Pascarella, who was among those who worked to make the project a reality. “It’s on time and under budget, it looks sensational, the lighting is terrific and the field drains now at double the specifications.”
It’s the last part that is particularly important because for years the field has had serious drainage issues. Heavy rains left it under water because the previous drainage system couldn’t function well enough to handle more than a passing shower.
“Our Hamden High School athletic fields are now in better condition than they have been in decades,” said Mayor Curt Balzano Leng. “We have a multipurpose playing field for our Hamden High School sports, one that drains properly for the first time, and a terrific track for the school and the community.”
The new lighting system will provide twice the amperage for half the price of what the old system cost, Pascarella said. The field also now has a state-of-the-art sound system and a new scoreboard, he said.
It all will debut on Oct. 30, which will be the football team’s first home game of the season. They have played the first five games of the season away — though one played at Cheshire High School was considered a home game — and will continue to do so until the end of the month. The Oct. 30 game will feature a halftime ceremony officially christening the field.
Teams began using the field this week for practice, Pascarella said. “They started playing on it this week with soccer games and team practices,” he said. It will be shut down for two days in order to put in the lane lines on the track portion of the field, he said.
The new field has synthetic turf, which was used for its durability, he said. “You have to weigh all the factors whenever you do any project,” he said. “We don’t have luxury of multiple fields at Hamden High School — we have one field and are hoping to make it two.
“There was really no other option than synthetic surface. It is used seven days a week, 12 months a year practically so there’s no growing season or ability to maintain grass. A poorly maintained grass field can cause significant injuries to athletes so, when weighing those options, there’s really only one option.”
Next up is the baseball field, Leng said. “There is funding in place for the second phase of the project that would renovate our baseball field,” he said. “That portion of the project is the next step and will be reviewed through our various land use commissions and eventually procured.
“The renovations are needed and will happen,” he said.