Despite a report in the Hartford Business Journal, UConn is intending to play all its home soccer games for both programs in the new Morrone Stadium once it opens, a source told The UConn Blog.
According to the article, Bruce Mandell, chairman and CEO of Hartford Sports Group, said the group is in discussions to “host the school’s entire 2019 slate of men’s and women’s soccer games” at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, which is expected to open in May of this year.
Mandell is part of a group bringing professional soccer to the capitol city. Hartford Athletic is set to begin play this season at Dillon Stadium in the USL Championship, the second tier of soccer in the United States.
However, the article also noted “Mandell says the school is still looking play select soccer games at Dillon, similar to how the UConn basketball teams play in downtown’s XL Center.”
While the school has discussed playing games at Dillion Stadium in 2019 and believes it is the best option, no agreement has been signed and the school intends to play nearly all their home games in its new stadium once it opens for the 2020 season, according to the source.
Since UConn is putting millions of dollars into the new stadium, much of which was funded by private donations, they intend to use it as much as possible.
The only exceptions would be playing an early-August exhibition game at Dillon Stadium — potentially against Hartford Athletic — or a double-header featuring the men’s and women’s teams. It would not be anything close to the set-up the basketball teams have with the XL Center, where half the games are played in Hartford and the other half on-campus. At most, a single game would be played at Dillon Stadium instead of Storrs but even that is far from becoming a reality.
While Mandell expressed a desire to build a relationship with UConn, the school found his comments concerning and may have pause in working with the group moving forward.
Despite that, Dillion Stadium is still the school’s top choice to host its soccer programs in the 2019 season. If no deal can be reached, Al-Marzook Field at the University of Hartford is also in play.
The stadium features a turf field and permanent stands, but only seats 2,500. UConn men’s soccer has led the nation in attendance the past two seasons and averaged 3,500 fans in 2017. There would also be the issue of scheduling, since Hartford would put priority on its two soccer programs over UConn’s, which may lead to unfavorable times and dates for the Huskies.
Despite the men’s team playing its 2018 first round NCAA Tournament game at Rentschler Field, the football stadium is not considered an option at this time.
As for UConn’s own stadium, construction is still on schedule to be ready for the 2020 season. The school is hopeful it can secure a venue for the soccer teams’ 2019 season in the next few weeks and will make an announcement when that happens.