This spring, the outdoor high school track and field season is getting a makeover.
Long-time state championship meet and State Open host Veterans Memorial Stadium at Willow Brook Park in New Britain will be under construction this spring, making way for a brand new nine-lane track and synthetic turf.
So instead, facilities across the state will get a chance to host.
Danbury, Middletown and Sheehan will host the state championship meets, with Middletown hosting the State Open on June 9.
According to New Britain Parks & Recreation Director Bill DeMaio, this is the first time he can remember since 1982, when Veterans Stadium opened, that the Open will not be held there.
Steve Wysowski, Associate Executive Director of the CIAC, said part of the reason these sites were picked was access for site directors to get to and willingness to host.
“We believe these will be great sites and they are great facilities,” Wysowski said.
Danbury will be responsible for the Class LL (June 3) and Class S (June 4) meets. Hatters track coach Rob Murray said they have never hosted a state championship track meet before. The Hatters, however, are accustomed to large meets, as they host the FCIAC Championships and O’Grady Relays.
The Class M meet will be held at Sheehan (June 2), while Middletown will field the Class L (June 2) and Class MM (June 3) meets along with the State Open.
Hosting the Open will be a first for Middletown, according to athletic director Michael Pitruzzello. Pitruzzello is looking forward to it though.
“We’ve hosted everything here,” he said. “If we had a bowling alley here, we’d host bowling.”
Middletown seats 2,500 and 1,000 standing according to Pitruzzello. It’s quite the contrast to the near 10,000 Veterans holds according to DeMaio.
Branford head girls’ coach Kevin Connell said the fans may suffer a bit trying to watch every event from the stands.
“You could see every event from up on top of the stands at Willow Brook,” Connell said.
But again, Connell alluded back to the point that it doesn’t matter where the meet is held as long as the athletes have somewhere to go.
“Middletown is an outstanding facility, the kids love going,” Connell said. “I think the kids will compete well anywhere.”
Added Murray: “I think track and field fans in Connecticut are fanatic and will be there to support the sports, teams and individuals.”
Middletown hosted the Class L and Class MM meets last year and features the Middletown Invitational, which draws a large number of schools from across the state.
Pitruzzello said they’ve never had any issues with hosting big meets before and are used to large crowds.
Middletown will once again have all the state baseball championships at Palmer Field this spring as well.
The payoff will be worth it in the end for track fans, with construction set to done by mid-summer at Veterans.
The final product will include the only nine-lane track in the state with the ability to run the 100 meter dash simultaneously, the switch from grass to turf and some changes done with the field events.
“We want to become the sports capital of Connecticut and we’re trying to attract high level of play, and high level of participation,” DeMaio said. “We think it’s going to be a pretty popular track venue.”