New Milford sports marks first season on new turf
NEW MILFORD — Doug Skelly was doing play-by-play commentary at New Milford football’s spring game, but when he wasn’t focused on the Green Wave, his eyes darted to the stands, the lights and the neighboring athletic field.
Some 300 people attended the third annual Green and White game Thursday, which marked the end of the first year of New Milford athletics in a $3.7 million complex behind the high school. The complex is replete with a new track, lights and two turf fields that host games, practices and track meets.
Skelly, a member of the Town Council’s New Milford Artificial Turf Construction Subcommittee, who helped push the project along for four years, said the players are proud, the town has a new jewel and savings have started adding up.
“It’s already been a big success. We’re drawing people, tournaments, soccer, the Special Olympics,” Skelly said. “This has already been better than I expected.”
Skelly estimates the district has saved more than 1,000 gallons of field paint this year, 30 hours a week on maintenance, $60 an hour on energy costs for lights at night and spared the Board of Education an eventual $800,000, which it would have needed for a track resurfacing, lighting replacement and field drainage.
The money’s good, said Town Council member Pete Bass, watching Thursday’s game, but the New Milford pride is best.
“Our kids were getting made fun of by other teams coming in before,” said Bass, who chaired the field subcommittee.
The old grass field was often deemed unsafe by officials, who moved games to other venues because the field’s drainage failed and the grass turned to mud. The track was pockmarked and the band had to practice on asphalt before the complex opened last summer.
Last season, thousands came out for the Green Wave’s first football games on home “turf,” and Bass said it was the first time he’s heard a “real stadium-style roar” in New Milford.
Attendance was great, he said, and enthusiasm was surging.
The complex was approved by voters in the fall of 2015, and the subcommittee was authorized to spend up to $4 million on it. The final cost was $3.7 million.
“Now the kids are proud,” Bass said. “We’re even hosting track championships, and I never saw that before.”
“The kids, the coaches, the town, we’re all ecstatic,” Bass said.
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