In early 2017, the City of Hartford approached CRDA for assistance in revitalizing Dillon. The 80-year-old stadium had fallen into disrepair and was in need of extensive upgrades to modernize it and bring it up to code. While school and community sports teams had frequently utilized the Stadium in the past, the deterioration of the grass field, broken bleachers and lack of adequate locker and restroom facilities had severely limited use in recent years. In addition, the facility failed to meet minimum ADA accessibility standards.
CRDA agreed to oversee a comprehensive renovation of Dillon Stadium, a 6.43-acre stadium located along Huyshope Avenue in the Coltsville section of Hartford. Opened in 1935, the facility has hosted football, soccer, lacrosse, and other field sports, as well as numerous concerts, over its long history. Dillon is part of the larger Colt Park complex and is a component of the U.S. National Park recently established there.
Pursuant to the terms of a license agreement with the City of Hartford (the owner of the Stadium), CRDA managed the renovation project, utilizing $10 million in State general obligation bonds secured for the project. CRDA also contracted with a venue management company to handle day-to-day Stadium operations for the first year. The City will maintain ownership of Dillon and oversee the scheduling of school and community events in order to ensure public access.
Hartford Sports Group (“HSG”) secured a United Soccer League (“USL”) soccer franchise to play at Dillon. On July 11, 2018, the newly christened “Hartford Athletics” team was formally welcomed into the USL by League President Jake Edwards at a press conference here in the city.
Construction at Dillon started in the summer of 2018. The project included the installation of an artificial turf field that will allow for greater utilization of the field by the USL team, as well as by school sports and community leagues. (Some 40 to 60 dates will be held for USL games, with the balance of dates available for public use.)
Other improvements include:
- Replacement of existing wooden and metal bleachers with new metal bleachers to create a seating capacity of 5,500.
- New press box and premium seating
- Lighting and sound system upgrades
- Upgrades to concessions and restroom facilities
- Construction of new locker room facilities
- Upgrades necessary for building code and ADA compliance, and
- New site entrance
The Hartford Athletics played its first home game at Dillon Stadium on Saturday, July 13, 2019, in front of a crowd of 5,500. The team celebrated with a 2-1 victory over Indy Eleven.