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April 9, 2018

Hartford city council approves Dillon Stadium redevelopment

Photo | Bill Morgan HSG Partners Bruce Mandell (center), Joseph Calafiore Jr. (left), and Scott Schooley (right) are making their best pitch to bring professional soccer to Hartford. They also propose to revitalize the city's Dillon Stadium, a South End landmark.
PHOTO | Contributed This artist's sketch depict a revitalized Dillon Stadium hosting a nighttime soccer match in Hartford's South End. A trio of area businessmen are negotiating with the city to lease the stadium to host professional soccer games as early as 2019.

The Hartford city council on Monday approved a major redevelopment plan that authorizes the Capital Region Development Authority to manage Dillon Stadium for at least five years in an effort to bring pro soccer to Hartford.

The license agreement allows CRDA to manage Dillon Stadium while the Hartford Sports Group (HSG) lures a United Soccer League team to Hartford. USL is sanctioned as a Division II pro league after dominant Major League Soccer.

Monday's vote comes after the State Bond Commission in February approved $10 million for renovating the stadium and for improvements to adjacent Colt Park. The money can be used for replacing the bleachers, renovations to locker rooms, restrooms and the press box, and installation of artificial turf.

As the stadium’s primary tenant, HSG partners  has committed to invest between $7.5 million to $10 million to acquire a USL team and bring it to Hartford by 2019. The plans include 40 priority scheduling dates in 2019 with an option of 20 additional dates in years after.

Under the agreement, HSG would keep the revenue from concessions, naming rights, merchandise, sponsorships and parking and admission at events.

The organization would have access to the stadium for 20 years and would pay $300,000 per year to cover overhead expenses and pay an additional $25,000 annually to a community fund. City and community organizers will be able to use the fund for a minimum of 131 neighborhood events and activities.

HSG would also cover the cost for police patrols, security at the site, utilities and maintenance and the city will pay utilities during community events.

The agreement requires stadium vendors to hire 50 percent of its workforce from Hartford.

In a recent report to the city council, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said he believes the partnership “satisfies” the city’s objectives and that the proposal can “restore an historic community asset, with minimal financial exposure for Hartford taxpayers.

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