HARTFORD, CT (CelebrityAccess) — Hartford’s City Council has voted in favor of a proposal to renovate Dillon Stadium, helping to pave the way for a consortium of investors to bring professional soccer to the beleaguered city.
According to NBC Connecticut, the plan calls for an investment of around $10 million in a refurbishment of the city’s venerable Dillon Stadium, with the taxpayers from the state of Connecticut picking up the tab.
“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,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement.
In February, the State Bond Commission approved a funding measure, drawing upon money that had previously been authorized by the State’s legislature for neighborhood investment. The proposal will see the city continue to own the stadium, with the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), managing the venue and a private consortium, Hartford Sports Group angling to bring a United Soccer League team in as tenants for the stadium.
Hartford would also be on the hook for paying for insurance for the stadium, while HSG would pay for trash and snow removal, police officers detailed to provide security at games, and for the stadium’s private security force, NBC Connecticut said.
HSG would also be responsible for the annual $300,000 licensing fee for the soccer team, as well as any expenses involved in bringing the team to the city. As well, HSG says they will pay a $25,000 community use fund payment and cover overhead expenses that exceed $300,000 in any year.
Hartford Sports Group was founded in 2015 by two local businessmen, Bruce Mandell, Joseph Calafiore, and Scott Schooley, founder of the private equity investor Woodside Capital Management.
“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,” HSG President Bruce Mandell wrote in a statement.
When not being used for USL games, the stadium would be available for community events.
This isn’t Hartford’s first attempt at revitalizing the stadium, which has largely lain dormant since 2012. In 2014, developers were hired to refurbish the venue with hopes of bringing pro soccer to Hartford, but they were accused of instead pocketing the money for the project, with several later convicted on fraud and money laundering charges.
The state’s investment also comes as Connecticut grapples with budget woes, with a $197 million shortfall projected for the current fiscal year.