WESTPORT, Conn. – The wait is finally over. For the first time, the Staples High School Wreckers varsity football team will host a Friday night home game under four permanent field lights — an occasion more than 30 years in the making in Westport.
"I've waited a long time for these lights," Wreckers head coach Marce Petroccio told The Westport Daily Voice recently. "It's all the buzz in school. We're all excited about it and to get our chance to be like everybody else and play a game under the lights."
Since at least 1978, attempts have been made to install permanent lights on the football field. In 2009, the town approved a proposal for permanent field lights, but that decision was appealed in court by a group of neighbors.
The lawsuit ended last November when the town backed an agreement with the neighbors known as a stipulation of judgment. This allowed plans and private fundraising for the lights to move forward. In July, the lights were installed.
“I’ve been here for 13 years, and I’ve witnessed three failed attempts,” Staples Athletic Director Marty Lisevick said. “The culture of the town and town boards definitely had to change for this to happen.”
As per the agreement with the neighbors, the lights will be used for weekday games and practices from September through December until 8 p.m. They can also be used for eight athletic special events, which include Friday night games, during the year until 10 p.m. and for two Saturday events.
Of those eight special events, Lisevick said four will be used for Staples football and two will be allotted to the Westport Police Athletic League program this fall. The remaining two events will be used in the spring, he said.
Given the history behind the lights, Lisevick said there’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement leading up to this game.
“In terms of the amount of school spirit this has generated and in terms of the bonus this brings to the community of Westport, I think the town will be reaping the benefits of the lights for many years to come.”
The lights will guide the Wreckers as they take on the St. Joseph High Cadets at 7 p.m. To mark the event, a 92-year-old Wreckers fan will do the coin toss before the game. During half-time, several former players will be inducted into the Wall of Fame.
Staples Stadium is located behind the high school at 70 North Ave.
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