Since the turf field at Hull High School opened in September 2019, it has been widely used not only for Hull-based sports, but also by some out-of-town teams.
For example, the high school field hosted the 2022 Shore Cup Memorial Day Soccer Tournament on May 28 and 29 and has been the site of a regional lacrosse tournament. Hull Public Schools Director of Athletics & Intramurals/Athletic Facilities Coordinator Connor Duhaime, a 2011 Hull High graduate, is the point person for out-of-town teams interested in renting the facility.
“Though we are very fortunate to have such a beautiful field, it is the only field in town that can hold these events. That means we have to be aware of the times and dates that we’re scheduling to ensure we’re not double booking,” he told The Hull Times.
Proponents of the town meeting vote authorizing the bond needed to construct the $2.1 million project cited the potential for revenue from field rentals. An added benefit associated with active use of the field is that out-of-town players and their families sometimes stop by local shops and restaurants on their way to or from the games.
To hold an event on the turf, forms are filled out by the team wishing to rent the field. The forms are then sent to the business department to create an invoice based on the field-use request.
“We charge a fair price for outside teams to use the field, but that same fee does not apply to Hull youth sports programs, such as football or soccer,” Duhaime explained. “The more kids we can get actively playing sports in Hull, the better. Kids love to play on the turf field, [and this positive experience] may lead them to continue playing sports at the high school level and beyond.”
Youth teams are charged $45 an hour when they host games on the field, Hull Public Schools Business Administrator Diane Saniuk told The Hull Times.
“This covers the cost of the custodian to set up and clean up as well as to open, close, and clean the bathrooms,” she said.
Rental of the field by out-of-town teams has generated approximately $18,500 so far. Funds raised through turf field rentals go into a revolving account that is used for field maintenance and repairs, bond payments on the field, and the eventual replacement of the turf carpet, according to Saniuk.
Funds from the sale of field signs go into the field advertising account, which is used for the same purposes. The balance in that account is currently about $75,000.
Duhaime understands the importance of local businesses generating revenue during the summer months “to get them through the slower winter days.”
During the Memorial Day tournament, for example, he noticed a number of kids in uniforms walking into Hull restaurants with their families, along Nantasket Beach, and shopping for groceries at the Village Market, which contributes to the local economy.
“While I’m not sure how much revenue this brings in for local businesses, I am confident that the more times we rent our field and hold larger, weekend-long tournaments, the bigger the positive impact on generating revenue for the businesses here in town,” he said.
Shipwreck’d owner Adrian Muir, who is also president of the Hull Nantasket Chamber of Commerce, said he definitely noticed a boost in business during Memorial Day weekend with the restaurant in such close proximity to the high school.
Scoops owner Kathy Prevett also experienced an uptick in the number of customers that weekend – most noticeably, whole teams dressed in their uniforms who stopped by to enjoy an ice cream.
“Paragon Boardwalk was definitely busier, too,” Muir said.
Hull teams take priority, though, when it comes to scheduling on the turf.
“During the school year, things are different. We have our Hull High School sports teams and youth teams using up a majority of the field time,” Duhaime said. “That said, I am always willing to consider requests to use the field on weekends during the fall and spring seasons [when they are not being used by Hull teams].”
Muir plans to reach out to Duhaime with the hope of getting information about the turf field schedule ahead of time to share on the Chamber’s website, so local businesses will be prepared for a potential influx of customers on those dates.
Posting the schedule would also inform Hullonians who enjoy attending sports events of games they might not otherwise know about, offering them a chance to “support our local kids” and other athletes right in their hometown, he said.
Duhaime’s role is multi-faceted, including building relationships with Amateur Athletic Union teams, select organizations, and travel/club leagues in an effort to host yearly tournaments on the turf field and to “build traditions” in Hull, he explained. “We’re [continually] trying to grow awareness of our turf field.”
The AAU involves high-level competition for a number of sports. There is usually a fee to participate.
The Hull turf field is definitely in the spotlight. Last summer, Duhaime sent a photo of the field to MaxPreps, a high school sports resource, which was posting what it considered to be the most unique high school fields in the country on its social media pages.
“They chose our field and posted a photo and write-up about it, which contributes to larger organizations noticing us,” Duhaime said.
Last November, thanks to “some amazing people here in town, we held a USA Lacrosse Day, with banners supporting USA Lacrosse and coaches and kids from around the South Shore playing on the field.”
Following the event, USA Lacrosse Magazine featured an eye-catching photo of the turf field and a writeup about the Hull lacrosse program.
“We also had Patriots Quarterback Mac Jones and No Bull clothing shoot a commercial last summer on the field,” Duhaime said. “When I asked them why Hull, they told me they were looking for a field that truly represents New England.”
Overall, Duhaime believes that the turf field has been “nothing but a positive” for the community.
“I see people daily just walking the track while the weather is nice or playing soccer with their small kids running around in the afternoon,” he said. “This is truly a community that deserves something beautiful to call its own. The job moving forward will be to continue to promote and maintain what we have. I could not be more excited about the future and to see the growth over the next few years.”