Athletic Foundation: Demand Rising for Use of New Canaan’s Turf Fields

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a nonprofit organization that supports youth and high school athletics has seen a steady increase in use of New Canaan’s turf fields in the past three years, officials say. Gross revenues generated by events held on turf fields at New Canaan High School grew from $30,975 in 2019 to $67,095 in 2020 and then $81,675 in 2021, according to Mike Benevento, chair of the New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s Board of Directors. Crediting the organization’s executive director, Bobby Rushton, for the increased use of the fields as an “enterprise zone,” Benevento told members of the Board of Finance this week that “the fields are getting used as much as they possibly can.”

“And the other added benefit to this is we get a lot of positive feedback from people from surrounding towns who come in for these tournaments and practices and what not, that our field complexes are just the top of the game for the entire area,” Benevento told the finance board during its regular meeting, held Tuesday night via videoconference. 

The comments came during a general update to the Board from Benevento and Vice Chair Mike Murray. Benevento said that the Athletic Foundation between the 2021 spring and fall seasons also collected a total of $93,825 in “player use fees” from New Canaan’s youth and recreational sports organizations, and that additional funds were expected to come from men’s softball and flag football programs.

He added that the Athletic Foundation did well with respect to fundraising even though a major event that had been planned for the fall, the Field Fest, had to be canceled amid the pandemic. Two major capital upgrades that had originally been slated for the summer of 2022 have been pushed back one year, Benevento said—enhancements to the press box and entrance at Dunning Stadium, and a new varsity baseball complex at Mead Park.

FieldFest ’19: New Canaan Athletic Foundation Releases Details on Sept. 7 Music Festival at Waveny

A widely anticipated music festival to be held Sept. 7 at Waveny will feature a ‘70s rock-n-roll tribute band, field games, face painting and bouncy houses, officials announced Wednesday. FieldFest ’19, located at Waveny’s Coppo Field and running 5 to 10 p.m. on the first Saturday of September, benefits the New Canaan Athletic Foundation. The event is open to all and will feature headliner 8Track Band, as well as Funky Dawgz Brass Band and local band Bad Dog Buddy, the nonprofit organization announced in a press release. “We wanted to raise money and celebrate our accomplishments with a fun event that everyone in New Canaan, as well as friends from surrounding towns, could enjoy,” Mike Benevento, the Athletic Foundation’s chairman, said in the release.

Podcast: The Rise of the New Canaan Athletic Foundation



This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk New Canaan Athletic Foundation Chairman Mike Benevento about the organization’s efforts over the past several months not only to formalize a partnership with the town, but to sketch out—for the very first time—a detailed, sustainable master plan for youth and varsity sports facilities in New Canaan. Those efforts include a newly announced music festival planned for Saturday, Sept. 7. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Karl Chevrolet, a proud supporter of the full range of New Canaan Athletics. Let’s go Rams.

Here are recent episodes of 0684-Radi0:

New Canaan Athletic Foundation Plans Community-Wide Music Festival at Waveny

A nonprofit organization that supports youth and high school student athletes in New Canaan announced last week that it’s planning to host a community-wide gathering in Waveny this fall as part of a new annual fundraiser. The New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s awareness and capital campaign will be an hours-long concert at Waveny in the style of the hugely popular and successful Greenwich Town Party, according to the organization’s chairman, Mike Benevento. To be held on the Saturday after Labor Day weekend, the music festival is to be held in the area of Coppo Field—behind Lapham Commuity Center, on the far side of the water towers from the new turf fields at New Canaan High School—following consultation with the first selectman, NCHS athletic director and town recreation director and parks superintendent, Benevento told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their June 12 meeting. In future years—unless the Coppo location works out exceptionally well—the event could be held out back of Waveny House, he said (there’s already a wedding booked for that Saturday this year). NCAF hasn’t yet settled on a formal name for the gathering.

High Marks for New Turf Fields at NCHS, Despite Delay in Lighting

Despite a yet-unresolved delay that’s cut down on practice hours, those making use of the newly laid turf fields in their inaugural spring at New Canaan High School are giving high marks for a facility that’s more weather-resistant, flexible and consistent with those of area towns. Though the lights at the new Water Tower turf fields are not yet powered due to recent storms, athletes, coaches and officials from the nonprofit organizations that run youth sports here say the fields—part of a an estimated $5.8 million project that also includes the new track at NCHS, a public-private partnership between the town and New Canaan Athletic Foundation—already are paying dividends. “The new turf is great because there is more space to play when it rains,” fourth-grade lacrosse and soccer player Emma Barnard said. “That’s a good thing.”

The track and fields project has been “a long time coming,” Recreation Director Steve Benko said. “When we’re finished, we’ll have a spectacular facility.