UConn v. Notre Dame Update: General Assembly Clears Path to South Bend

Under the gold dome of the state capitol, state legislators and UConn officials announced an agreement that clears the way for UConn to play under the golden dome, at the University of Notre Dame.  A contract between Notre Dame and UConn has not been finalized.  However, the General Assembly has given its blessing for UConn to enter into a contract under which UConn’s “home” games will not be played at Rentschler Field, but at either the new Giants Stadium or Gillette Stadium.

The agreement between UConn and the General Assembly included shortening the length of the contract with Notre Dame from ten years to seven years.  (There will actually be two contracts with Notre Dame: a contract for a single game on November 21, 2009; and a contract for a six-game series between 2011 and 2017).  The rationale was that a shorter series would provide the opportunity to renegotiate a second series, during which Notre Dame might agree to play in Connecticut.

“If there’s a 10-game series, the window of opportunity to play at Rentschler is zero.  Scaling it back to six years, think it leaves the window open a little bit for a Rentschler game.”

-Rep. Michael Christ, East Hartford

UConn officials have repeatedly stressed that Notre Dame’s refusal to play at Rentschler Field has nothing to do with the capacity of the stadium, and everything to do with the fact that Notre Dame wants to play only in major metropolitian areas.  Coach Randy Edsall, however, made some curious comments lobbying to expand Rentschler Field:

“I’d like to see our legislature either do some kind of study to see if they maybe could appropriate some more funds to expand our stadium to 50,000 or 55,000…We could go play a Florida State, Georgia, some top 10-15 team…I’d like to get Penn State on our schedule.  I think there comes a point when we need to increase the size of our stadium to be a little more attractive to those teams.”

UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway denied any intention to expand Rentschler Field.  Possibly, Hathaway was aware of a recent article in the Hartford Business Journal, which reported that UConn football had its lowest attendance since its inaugural season, despite a very successful season on the field. 

Although it is premature to talk about expanding Rentschler Field, a competitive series with Notre Dame will go a long way to increasing interest in the program.  In addition, Edsall’s talk about scheduling top teams is encouraging and exciting.  Perhaps the Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs said it best: “Playing for real is better than playing Rhode Island.”


  1. Rep. Michael Christ’s comments make no sense. I understand that he is looking for a second contract with ND to include a real home game, but all this means is that there is now a six-game series, the window of opportunity to play at Rentschler still remains at zero. They basically just blew the opportunity to play ND 4 more times.

  2. Dan Fitzgerald says:

    Dan C – I agree. Rep. Christ assumes UConn will somehow gain leverage with Notre Dame enabling UConn to sign a second contract with Notre Dame and get a real home game. The question is how will UConn gain leverage? By selling out the games at Giants Stadium and Gillette? By playing well against Notre Dame?

    Even if Notre Dame is thrilled with its UConn series, the motivation to play in East Hartford is minimal. Notre Dame has huge fanbases in Boston and New York that it can take advantage of with this series. If UConn threatens to walk away, Notre Dame can probably book a game with any other team in the country.

    I like the fact that the General Assembly made UConn explain itself, but once UConn offerred compelling reasons, the contractual terms should have been left to UConn.

  3. Dan Fitzgerald says:

    In a Connecticut Post article ( http://www.connpost.com/sports/ci_9032553 ), William S. Paxton provides additional examples of Notre Dame playing teams in targeted markets. The Irish will play Washington State in San Antonio in 2009; and have 2 homes games scheduled to be played in the Florida Citrus Bowl in 2011 and 2014. Irish AD Kevin White believes the practice is reminiscent of the barnstorming approach of the Irish under Knute Rockne in the 1920s. This approach contributed to the phenomenon of “subway alumni” – Notre Dame supporters that have no actual affiliation with the school.

  4. Great post! Lovely!

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  1. […] continues to raise the profile of its athletic program.  On the heels of the UConn-Notre Dame football series, and Football Coach Randy Edsall’s stated ambition to bring teams like Penn State to […]

  2. […] Then imagine Penn State on the field in their white road uniforms playing UConn.  This is the vision Edsall has for the […]

  3. […] the Connecticut General Assembly injecting itself in the UConn-Notre Dame situation, UConn doesn’t have the political concerns that Rutgers faces.  The program is on solid […]

  4. […] UConn v. Notre Dame Update: General Assembly Clears Path to South Bend […]

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