A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium Monday.
The 80-year old stadium is being redeveloped. It will be the home of the Hartford Athletic soccer club, which is slated to play United Soccer League games there next year.
Bruce Mandell, founder of the Hartford Sports Group that owns and operates Hartford Athletic, said that the group is also passed the preliminary stages of bringing in professional rugby and lacrosse teams.
“We came up with a new design and we funded it and we’re ready to go,” Mandell said. “It’s going to be a very, very beautiful soccer stadium, but were also going to be able to have football here, rugby here, lacrosse here, community use – very, very multi-use stadium.”
To make Dillon a more attractive venue, the team is having a type of synthetic field installed that it said is unique in North America.
“The durable synthetic FieldTurf field is composed of tufted, slit-film and monofilament polyethylene fibers,” a team spokesman said in a written statement. “The infill will be composed of a mixture of silica sand and FieldTurf’s organic mixture of coconut husks and cork, PureGeo,”
Mandell said that the soil underneath the stadium is so soft that extra concrete blocks needed to be laid down to support the new surface. Also, the base had to be leveled out due to a pitching issue. The team fundraised $4 million to pay for that and the turf upgrade in addition to the $10 million the state bonded for the project as part of redevelopment in Hartford’s Colt Park.
Governor Dannel Malloy said that the state’s investment was part of a series of moves aimed at revitalizing the city of Hartford.
“You need cities that are going to attract young people, going to attract new jobs -- new types of jobs -- and I think we’re repositioning Hartford successfully,” Malloy said.
Mandell, the team’s owner, said that while weather will be the deciding factor, the club still hopes to play in the completely renovated 5,500 seat facility by May.