With the facility’s lights now operational, Hartford Athletic will play its first Dillon Stadium night game on Saturday.
USL Championship‘s Athletic began competing this season as an expansion club, staging initial home matches at UConn’s Rentschler Field until renovation work at Dillon Stadium progressed to the point where the club could begin playing there in July. Athletic has called Dillon Stadium home since playing its first match there on July 13, but some parts of the renovation–including new lighting–were not completed at that time.
As a result of the lighting not being ready, the Athletic have played all Dillon Stadium matches to this point during the day time. That streak will end this weekend, as the lighting is ready to go for Saturday night’s match against Louisville City FC. More from the Hartford Courant:
The team came close to doing that this past weekend, but more testing — including backup emergency lighting — still needed to be done. The lights will be ready for the 7 p.m. game on Saturday, Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, said.
“A lot of it is testing and tuning,” he said. “We’ve had them on.”
CRDA, which is managing the $14 million renovation of the once-dilapidated Dillon Stadium near the Colt manufacturing complex, had hoped to use the existing stadium lighting system, but it couldn’t be upgraded to the standards required by modern television broadcasting. Installation of the new lights required structural changes below ground to work around storm drains and sewer pipes, particularly on the western side of the 6,000-seat sports venue. Four new, 120-foot lighting poles were all in place last week.
Freimuth said the custom lighting — costing about $650,000 with installation and part of the total project price tag — couldn’t be ordered until February when the funds for that portion of the project became available.
Dillon Stadium was originally built in 1935 under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and the renovation has effectively brought it back into working order for professional soccer and other events. It past includes a variety of uses, including sporting events and concerts for major acts such as the Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Kiss, and more.
Image courtesy Hartford Athletic.