Hartford Athletic held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its Dillon Stadium renovation on Monday, and is expected to play its first game at the facility in May.
Dillon Stadium is undergoing a significant overhaul to accommodate the Athletic, a 2019 Division II USL (soon to be rebranded USL Championship) expansion club backed by Bruce Mandell’s Hartford Sports Group. While it was one point anticipated that the renovation would be completed in April, it was learned in recent months that issues with the site led to some unforeseen challenges during the construction process.
The $14 million project now looks to be on track for a May completion. Once the renovation concludes, Dillon Stadium will be equipped with a synethetic FieldTurf surface and a capacity of 5,500 with room to expand in the future if needed. During the Dillon Stadium groundbreaking ceremony, Mandell indicated that concerns about the foundation below the stands–an issue early in the construction process–have been resolved. More from the Hartford Courant:
In the early stages of construction, it was feared that the foundation beneath the stands would be too uneven to build on. Mandell claims that the issue has since been fixed.
“Totally resolved,” he said. “We came up with a new design, we funded it, and we’re ready to go.”
In regards to the extra $4 million that was put into the renovation, Mandell said it was to ensure that the project was done properly, not rushed or haphazardly.
“It’s an 80-year-old site,” Mandell said. “The one thing we wanted to make sure was that we did this right. This neighborhood deserves a real stadium, and the ability to have community use out of it. We didn’t want to come back in five years, 10 years and have to fix things. When we found out that the actual soil beneath some of the stands was so soft, we had to put extra concrete blocks in there to firm it up. That costs a lot of money.”
The USL’s 2019 schedule is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, so more certainty should emerge then on the exact day of the Athletic’s Dillon Stadium opener and whether the club will play home games elsewhere before the renovation is complete. Dillon Stadium 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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