A plan to overhaul Dillon Stadium for a Hartford USL club has taken a step forward, as a state commission has approved $10 million in funding for the project.
The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) has already recommended a Dillon Stadium renovation that was proposed by the Hartford Sports Group. Led by local businessman Bruce Mandell, the Hartford Sports Group’s pitch includes a request of public funds to help cover a renovation to Dillon Stadium. When the upgrades are complete, the group would establish a Hartford USL club at the venue, with the team possibly beginning play at the renovated facility in 2019.
Discussions with the city over that proposal continue, but the State Bond Commission gave the plan a boost on Friday by approving $10 million in public funding for the renovations. Should the project move forward, Dillon Stadium would be upgraded in a variety of areas to accommodate professional soccer and ultimately address concerns that some officials are expressing over the facility’s current condition. More from The Hartford Courant:
Leaders of the sports group said they would put up $7 million to $10 million of their own money to form the team, and they asked for another $10 million to upgrade the stadium. The money will cover the repair and replacement of bleachers; new fencing, curbing and sidewalks; landscaping and lighting improvements; and renovations to the lockers rooms, restrooms and press box. It will also pay for a new artificial turf field.
CRDA will oversee the redevelopment and the city will retain ownership of the facility.
“The stadium is in a great state of disrepair, bordering on dangerous,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at the bond commission meeting Friday. “So either we appropriate money to put it in good shape, or we appropriate money to take it down.”
As part of the subsidy, funds would also be directed toward improvements to Colt Park. Ultimately, it is still up to the Hartford City Council to approve a final agreement for the project.
This is not the first time a renovation of Dillon Stadium, a venue constructed under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, has been discussed. Premier Sports Management Group — Dillon Stadium developer Mitchell Anderson and his partner, James Duckett — came under fire for taking money to redevelop Dillon Stadium for pro soccer and then diverting the funds elsewhere. Duckett was convicted on 12 of 13 federal charges, while Anderson pled guilty to fraud and money-laundering charges.
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