It’s become an all-too-familiar fight. One month into their season, the Hartford Hurricanes—the North End’s Pop Warner football team—doesn’t have a permanent field to play on.
And their biggest battle isn’t on the gridiron. It’s with the City of Hartford.
“We don’t have a long-term solution. I don’t believe the city has a long-term solution either,” said Head Coach Phil Bryant.
Last season, Hartford charged the Hurricanes $13,000 to play in a city stadium. It was money the all-volunteer organization doesn’t have. When the Troubleshooters asked about that bill, city leaders cut it down to $3,000, and said they’d work on a long term solution.
So this year, when the Hurricanes were hit with a $6,600 bill weeks before the season was set to start, the team again turned to the Troubleshooters, and we went straight to City Hall.
“How much do you think you can get it reduced down to? Maybe 3,000?” our Troubleshooter asked back in July.
“If not, very close. Something that they can afford because I know they already budgeted for $3,000,” Councilman Kyle Anderson responded.
Other city leaders agreed, but the bill wasn’t reduced and the Hurricanes still don’t have a permanent place to play.
The team took matters into their own hands and teamed up with Weaver High School to use its field for their first home games. Trinity College donated its football field for three more game days later in the season.
“It’s just one of the ways that I think fits within the mission of the college, which is to broaden people’s horizons, to open opportunity, to open access to people who perhaps don’t have the resources that a college like this can offer,” said Jason Rojas, Trinity’s Community Relations Director.
Even with generous offers like the one from Trinity, the Hurricanes don’t have a playing field of their own.
If all else fails, the Hurricanes said they’ll have to fall back on their practice field at Keney Park. But with no bleachers or scoreboard, that is not a solution either the coaches and kids are happy about.
“I twist my ankle during practice because the fields are not even and the grass is not cut. I would feel very uncomfortable and I know other teams will probably be too,” said player Dean Jones.
We caught up with Councilman Kyle Anderson to ask about the solution City Council promised was in the works two months ago. He told us the city had hoped Weaver would be the Hurricane’s new home field permanently
“We were looking at a needs assessment trying to find out what do they need and the cost factor,” said Councilman Anderson (D).
But the price Weaver gave the team for regular use was still too high.
Councilman Anderson said the city would keep working to find a home for the Hurricanes--one they can afford. And in fact, soon after we spoke, Anderson convinced Weaver to reduce the charges so the Hurricanes could keep playing at the school’s fields.
In the meantime, players said they’re confident the team can tackle this challenge, and won’t lose sight of the real goal: heading back for another shot at the National Championships in Disney World.
“I just hope to go undefeated, win the State Championship and go down to Florida. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. We have to make goals each week and practice hard if we’re going to make it,” said player Dayjion Washington.