If an ongoing Dillon Stadium renovation falls behind schedule, USL’s Hartford Athletic would begin play next spring at UConn’s Rentschler Field.
Dillon Stadium is currently undergoing construction work to accommodate the Athletic, a new Division II USL squad. The Athletic is backed by the Hartford Sports Group, an entity led by local businessman Bruce Mandell, and will begin USL play as an expansion team in 2019.
The renovation’s schedule has called for work at Dillon Stadium to conclude by April. However, issues with the site have led to some unforeseen challenges during the construction process, which is being overseen by the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). While it is still not certain that these problems will result in the project’s completion being delayed, Mandell says that the Athletic would use Rentschler Field on an interim basis if Dillon Stadium’s renovation schedule is pushed back. More from the Hartford Courant:
Mandell said the team would play home games at Rentschler Field if Dillon is not ready in time.
“We don’t want to do that, we hope not to do that,” he said. “But we also want to be in a position where we’re planning ahead.”
He added, “Again, we’re in New England. If we get a good winter, we’ll be good. If we get a bad winter, we’ll probably have some delays.”
The construction crew is working to make a level playing surface at the stadium. Mandell said when construction began, one side of the stadium was a foot higher than the opposite end. That, along with a sizing issue with the new bleachers, could potentially drive up the cost of the project. To counter that, the CRDA will look to cut back on some features.
Located in East Hartford, Rentschler Field is primarily home to UConn’s football program, but has been used for a variety of other events. That includes an MLS match, as New York City FC moved a September 2017 game to the facility due to a scheduling conflict with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
The cost of the Dillon Stadium renovation has been estimated at $10 million. The venerable facility was first constructed under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, but its condition had fallen on hard times in the years leading up to the ongoing renovation project.
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