Samrov: Successful start for Storm Stadium

BENNINGTON — Saturday's Southern Vermont Storm game at Storm Stadium at Lower Willow Park was 12 years in the making.

Over the years, the Storm have played a handful of games at Mount Anthony, but most of the team's games were elsewhere — Manchester, Hoosick Falls and Schuylerville, N.Y., to name a few.

So, to see more than 200 people come to Storm Stadium, the Storm's new permanent Bennington home, for the 2018 season opener, is satisfying.

"The win was particularly satisfying because of all we have been through since the end of last season," said Storm general manager Chris Cipperley. "There was concern about how we would rebound from those circumstances."

Thanks to the work of co-owners Patrick Seaver and Jeff Grimshaw, along with Cipperley and many others, the Storm put on a professional experience. There's some kinks to be worked out for sure, but to see cars filling the Willow Park parking lot and both sides of the road as you entered Performance Drive was fulfilling.

People brought their chairs and sat on all three levels — on the field, the first berm and next to the pavilion. There were tons of young fans at the game as well, as the Storm have doubled down on making games a family-friendly experience.

JC's Tavern had food and drinks at the concession stand (in the pavilion), and it seemed to be a busy place.

On Saturday to get ready, Cipperley and others got to the stadium at noon for a 4 p.m. start against their in-state rival, the Vermont Ravens, and got everything ready just in time for kickoff.

With the team ready to run out on the field with their Maritime Conference championship flag, Cipperley was out taking photos and videos to get a record of the beginning of the new season

And kudos to the Bennington Select Board for approving the request for the team to have its permanent home at Lower Willow Park. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes that most fans don't know about and the board made that process as easy as possible.

When asked about having more than 200 people in the crowd for the opener, Bennington selectman Jim Carroll said it's great for Bennington.

"They'll [the fans] eat at the restaurants, maybe go downtown," Carroll said. "It is great to have this here in Bennington."

The fans that came for the opener left happy after the Storm came back in the final moments to snag a 26-21 victory over the Ravens to open their title defense at 1-0.

It showed why football is so important for the Bennington community and hopefully as the season continues, the crowds continue to grow.

Full disclosure: The author played for the Storm for one season, 2013.


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