True Color of Hartford’s UFL Fans Remains to be Seen

By Dan Canavan

uflWhile sitting in the Rentschler Field press box preparing for Thursday night’s UFL contest, my colleague Dan Fitzgerald leaned over and whispered: “which team is which?”   The teams had just run out on to the field through a pyrotechnic display, and with all the pregame excitement, press box buffet and Doug Flutie sighting, we lost sight of the fact that neither squad was really Hartford’s team.  And I’m sure that many of the 5,201 fans in attendance were asking themselves that very same question.

The crowd was sparse, the teams unknown and players unfamiliar.  But football is football.  And the UFL didn’t disappoint.  There were big hits and sacks, play action passes and even some wildcat formations.  And there was plenty of tailgating and cold beers to go around.  From the outset, Florida dominated, showing why they are 5-0 and headed for post-season play.  While Brooks Bollinger carved up the New York secondary and running back Tatum Bell was pushing his way across the goal line, the Sentinels were sloppy, failing to post a touchdown and limited to only a pair of field goals.

UFL_HelmetDesigns_SentinelsAlthough it is still unclear what role this league may ultimately play in the landscape of professional sports, it appears that the UFL may be headed to Hartford full-time next season.  It was widely reported Thursday that the UFL will soon announce a Hartford expansion franchise for the 2010 season.  The UFL has local ties, and league officials understand this market. 

League Commissioner Michael Huyghue attended Windsor High School, and is a great advocate for Connecticut sports.  To hear him speak about football is to hear enthusiasm – both for the UFL and the Hartford market.  Huyghue is a football guy, deeply involved in NFL Europe.  And unlike those other fallen football leagues, the UFL is built to succeed.  The UFL follows a central ownership model, with the league owning a 50% stake in of all of the franchises.  The league’s economic model places an emphasis on TV revenue and sponsorship, not on gate revenue. Thus, when the UFL announces its Hartford expansion franchise, only half of the risk will fall on the local ownership group.  And while ticket sales will be important, mediocre gate receipts won’t be fatal.

UFL_HelmetDesigns_TuskersFor some local sports fans, the UFL Hartford franchise will be nothing more than another minor league team to compliment the Rock Cats and Wolf Pack.  But to others, especially those that yearn for a major league franchise in the Greater Hartford area, the UFL will be viewed as a springboard to bigger and better things.  Perhaps an opportunity for Hartford to display its sports savvy on a larger stage, a stage that will be aired nationally on Versus and HDNet.

Much like this whole season, Thursday’s UFL matchup at Rentschler Field was an exhibition.  On the field, fringe players were testing their talent; off the field, the league was testing the Rentschler experience.  At the end of the game, the team in black jerseys lost to the players wearing teal.  But the true color of Hartford’s UFL fans will remain to be seen.

dan_canavan1Dan Canavan is an attorney in Hartford, Connecticut.  He has appeared as an on-air guest with regard to the NHL and the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy proceedings on CBC Radio’s World Report.  Dan’s analysis and commentary have also been published in various media outlets including The National Post, The Windsor Star, The Star Phoenix, The Montreal Gazette, The Edmonton Journal, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, The Province,, and the Sports Litigation Alert, a leading sports industry publication which is circulated throughout the United States.  Dan is also the Carolina Hurricanes correspondent for The Hockey Writers.  You can follow Dan on Twitter @DanielRCanavan, and he can be contacted directly at or at (860) 665-3276.


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  1. […] to the Connecticut sports scene.  On one end of the spectrum, professional football visited Hartford in the form of the United Football League (UFL).  At the opposite end, six college basketball teams kicked off a showcase of Division I teams not […]

  2. […] True Color of Hartford’s UFL Fans Remains to be Seen […]

  3. […] True Color of Hartford’s UFL Fans Remains to be Seen […]

  4. […] True Color of Hartford’s UFL Fans Remains to be Seen […]

  5. […] True Color of Hartford’s UFL Fans Remains to be Seen […]

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