Stadium Spotlight: Rentschler Field
Location: East Hartford, CT
Opened: Summer 2003
Tenant: UCONN Football, No regular soccer tenant
Quite a surprise here, but Rentschler Field is the perfect venue for a big soccer game. With a capacity of 40,000, Rentschler Field offers seating for more people than the new soccer specific stadiums hold. While it is indeed a football stadium, it is one of the newer ones that was built with soccer in mind. I will be the first one to say that soccer is not meant to be played in a football stadium, but Rentschler Field really is a fabulous venue for a match when it fills up. The USA v. Trinidad & Tobago World Cup Qualifying match in East Hartford a few years back was a perfect example of how the stadium can handle soccer. While there is no true potential for a Major League Soccer franchise to come to the Hartford area, the stadium will still be a good place for the occasional exhibitions and US National Team games.
Pros: One of the biggest attractions of the new soccer specific stadiums in the United States is the layout of the venues. In most of the new stadiums such as The Home Depot Center and Toyota Park there is not a bad view in the house. Every seat is right on top of the field, and there are no obstructed or even bad views anywhere in the house. Rentschler Field puts forth the same type of design, except with expanded seating. This is by far the biggest benefit to this stadium, including the fact that the dimensions were built with soccer in mind.
Cons: Besides some necessary parking improvements, there are only a few basic improvements that could be made on Rentschler Field. One negative to the stadium happens to be the quality of the seating, with much of it boasting bleachers for seating. This is not as big of a problem with active, standing crowds for football and soccer games, but is still a little discouraging depending on the ticket price. The location of the stadium is conveniently close to major highways, but with only one way in and out, traffic problems can come about. Overall, Rentschler Field is surprisingly a great soccer venue for a football stadium, and the US Soccer Federation would be smart to schedule more games there. It is in an area that could ensure the United States actually have a home field advantage (as opposed to the “home games” in Texas), and potentially provides a bigger crowd than any current soccer specific stadium. Hartford may not be the ideal market, but the stadium is certainly very good for the world’s most beautiful game.
Jeff Kassouf is a staff writer for The New Paltz Times and a freelance writer who covers soccer, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org