Not only will the Summer Music Games not be held in Fairfield this year — the event’s organizers said they don’t ever intend to return to the stadium.
That’s because the seating capacity of the new stadium, slated to be built this spring, is too small to accommodate the event, which would celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, said Bruce Brown, the contest director for the Summer Music Games. The home side bleachers of the new stadium will hold 2,207 people, according to the seating charts Brown has seen.
However, the annual drum corps event has drawn as many as 3,839 spectators on the home side in the past, with visitors coming from as far as Texas and North Carolina.
Therefore, Brown said, the Summer Music Games can no longer turn a profit at Fairfield Stadium. That’s why they’re negotiating a move to Hamilton’s Virgil Schwarm Stadium on June 22. The event will still remain a fundraiser for Fairfield’s band boosters, said school spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.
“We’re very disappointed that we can’t host a 20th anniversary show on our home field,” said Brown. “We will never host the drum corps show in the current configuration.”
In December, Fairfield announced a $2.6 million renovation project to replace the aging facilities, including the bleachers and the field house.
“We were never consulted on the design,” Brown said. It was his understanding the district had 2,500 “usable” seats in the old configuration, but Brown said the amount seated actually went well over 3,000. When Fairfield announced the new project, the specs included 3,300 seats, including 2,500 home-side seats.
However, Brown said, the additional seating on the visitors side and on the end zone don’t count because the Summer Music Games don’t play to those sides, so those seats wouldn’t be sold, Brown said.
Gentry-Fletcher said the district regrets losing the event but had to consider the needs of the local community in the stadium design.
“The main goal of the stadium renovation is to provide updated and safe seating for fans attending athletic and other events. The new bleachers and the set-up best fits the primary use of the stadium. We could not justify the expense of reconfiguring the space to accommodate an event that occurs once a year. it is unfortunate that the show is moving to another venue. For the last two decades it has been a great event that brings a lot of excitement and energy to the community,” she said.
Fairfield High School’s band director, Darren Ling, pointed out the event was once held at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. It came to Fairfield in 2000, Brown said.
“It’s unfortunate that the event can’t be hosted at Fairfield, but this is not our first venue change. Hamilton’s facility is very nice, and we think that’s going to suit our show very well,” Ling said.
Fairfield will continue to work with Summer Music Games organizers as it seeks other events for the new stadium.
“The show is a fundraiser for the marching band and has raised as much as $22,000. We will be working with the organizers in other ways — providing facilities for practices and other needs. We certainly will consider requests for events to be held in the stadium. It is one of the ways that will help us offset the cost for the renovations,” Gentry-Fletcher said.
Hamilton City Schools spokeswoman Joni Copas said “Our district’s happy to help (the Summer Music Games) in their time of need. We always like to showcase our first-class facilities.”