Hartford’s City Council has voted in favor of a proposal to renovate Dillon Stadium, a project that could bring a professional soccer team to Hartford.
The council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) and Hartford Sports Group (HSG) to revitalize the stadium.
The plan calls for renovating Dillon Stadium for a cost of around $10 million. As it’s presented, the state would pay for these renovations. In February, the funding was approved by the State Bond Commission which drew upon funds authorized by the General Assembly for neighborhood investment. If everything goes as planned, a renovated Dillon Stadium could have a United Soccer League, or USL, team by next April.
"Tonight’s vote by the City Council is an important step toward bringing Dillon Stadium back to life as a community asset. Our focus will remain on protecting the interests of our residents as we finalize an agreement that brings professional soccer to Hartford and contributes to the revitalization of Coltsville,” Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement.
Dillon Stadium became embroiled in controversy several years ago when the developers hired to redevelop it in 2014 were accused of pocketing money for the project. They were ultimately convicted on fraud and money laundering charges.
This proposal gives the stadium a second chance, with the city retaining ownership, the CRDA managing it, and HSG, using it.
HSG promises to spend up to $10 million to bring in a USL team, while also paying an annual $300,000 licensing fee. They would also pay a $25,000 community use fund payment and cover overhead expenses that exceed $300,000 in any year. HSG would also cover the costs of police officers used outside the stadium for events as well as private security inside the stadium.
“After years of hard work and diligent planning, we knew that this was the moment for Dillon Stadium and are grateful to receive approval to move forward. This iconic community asset has languished for far too long, and we look forward to restoring it to its rightful place within the cultural fabric of Hartford," wrote HSG President Bruce Mandell in a statement.
When not being used for USL games, the community could use the facility. Hartford would be expected to continue to pay for insurance for the stadium and would provide trash removal and snow removal. Trash removal after HSG events would be paid for by HSG. The city would also cover utilities after HSG covers the first $10,000 in electric costs.
Improvements would also be made to Colt Park as part of the plan.