The UFL Brings Pro Football Home to Hartford

The past, present and future of football in Hartford was alive yesterday at Rentschler Field, when the United Football League (UFL) announced that it would relocate its New York franchise to Hartford.  Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, UFL Commissioner Michael Hugyhue, and team owner Bill Mayer all took turns at the podium, overlooking the stadium evidencing perhaps Connecticut’s greatest football success story – the UConn Huskies. 

Despite the stature of UConn football in Connecticut, another football team that nearly moved to Connecticut provided the most interesting comparison and contrast to the UFL – the New England Patriots.  The Patriots, led by owner Bob Kraft, negotiated what has been described as one of the most one-sided deals in professional sports to move the Patriots to Hartford.  Notwithstanding a decidedly sweetheart deal, Kraft chose to keep the Patriots in Foxboro, ostensibly using the Hartford deal as leverage to gain some concessions to keep the Patriots in Massachusetts.  Professional football in Connecticut was not to be.

Led by UFL Commissioner Michael Hugyhue, professional football is coming to Hartford this year.  Hugyhue, a Windsor native, has long-believed that Hartford is a “hidden gem” as a market for professional football.  Hugyhue is not alone with his Connecticut ties.  He introduced Chris Palmer as Head Coach and General Manager of the Hartford franchise.  Palmer’s Connecticut roots run deep, from Immaculate-Danbury, to Southern Connecticut State, to UConn, to the University of New Haven.  Beyond Connecticut, Palmer brings NFL experience, as well as alternate league experience, from his time in the United States Football League (USFL).

Governor Rell and Commissioner Hugyhue talked about jobs and the local economy.  The yet-to-be-named Hartford franchise will practice, play and live and spend money in the greater Hartford community.  The State has another rent-paying tenant for the often-dormant Rentschler Field.  The economic benefits should trickle down to fans as well.  Practices and possibly training camp will be open to fans.  Family-friendly prices will be set.  A season ticket (for 5 home games) will cost about $100.  The community connection that Connecticut Sports Law has discussed as essential to the success of the franchise is being addressed. 

There are no illusions that the UFL can, or wants to, compete with the NFL.  Hugyhue has stressed that the league will be complimentary to the NFL.  The UFL is truly a developmental league.  Players and coaches will be encouraged to use the UFL as a springboard back to the NFL. 

Despite the vast differences beween the UFL and the NFL, no one at yesterday’s well-attended press conferences was bemoaning the Patriots’ decision to turn their back on Hartford more than a decade ago.  Rather, it appears that the UFL will be embraced.  After all, this league, this team and this owner actually wants to be in Hartford.

Professional football is coming home to Hartford.

Comments

  1. cool post. Who you fancy in the south Africa world cup this year?

  2. I see that this post is a year-old today. So we’re about one year into the Colonials officially starting up in Hartford. Are the Colonials and the UFL going to make it in 2011? Can CT Sports Law add analysis?

    S

Trackbacks

  1. […] is an exciting time in Connecticut professional sports.  The UFL has christened its Hartford franchise, led by Connecticut native Chris Palmer, as the Colonials.  But the Colonials won’t be the […]

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