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December 14, 2018

Hartford Athletic slated for May 4 debut

Photo | Hartford Athletic A rendering of soon-to-be renovated Dillon Stadium in Hartford.

The Hartford Athletic soccer club will play its first-ever home game on May 4 at soon-to-be renovated Dillon Stadium, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Members of the division II United Soccer League (USL), the Athletic will play its home opener vs. the Charlotte Independence. The team will begin the regular season on the road March 9 against Atlanta United 2.

The Athletic will also play March 23 in Louisville, March 30 in Indiana and April 13 in Pittsburgh, according to USL’s website. Other 2019 game dates have not been released yet.

As expected, the USL on Thursday listed the Athletic under its newly reshuffled eastern conference. The league will expand to 36 teams in 2019.

Despite suffering a setback in September, the ongoing renovations at Dillon Stadium are on budget and will be completed by May’s home opener, the team said.

However, the project faces uncertainty. As reported by the Hartford Courant last month, Hartford Sports Group’s CEO and Chairman Bruce Mandell is the subject of a State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) investigation.

The commission is looking into whether Mandell violated a state law, which prohibits state contractors from donating to political parties, by contributing $13,500 to the Connecticut Republican Party and its gubernatorial candidate, Bob Stefanowski.

If SEEC determines the campaign contributions were illegal, HSG could be barred from signing a contract to lease Dillon Stadium from the quasi-public Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), which is overseeing the $10 million, state-financed renovation of the city-owned facility, the Courant reported.

An attorney for HSG recently told HBJ the investor group self-reported the campaign contributions in early November for transparency.

The team last week unveiled its new blue and green team logo, donning the colors popularized by the Hartford Whalers and Yard Goats. The unveiling also included the roll out of new team merchandise and apparel launch available online. A promotional video highlighting players, fans and coaches was also revealed.

Team, state and local officials celebrated the installation of new field turf at Dillon Stadium in November.

Next up, the team says it will announce player signings and begin selling game tickets for its inaugural season. Team officials recently told Hartford Business Journal that 15 players are signed and 18 front-officer staffers have begun work.

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