Rentschler Field (Silver Lane, East Hartford, Conn.)
Some college football teams play in stadiums that put fans so close to the action that the spectators feel like they can reach out and touch the players. These stadiums are intimate and are part of what has made college football special.
Other stadiums are ultra-modern edifices that feature the latest in facilities such as luxurious suites and spacious locker rooms.
The home of University of Connecticut football — Rentschler Field — happens to be both. The stadium is one of the newest and most modern BCS college football stadiums in the country.
Rentschler Field, located in East Hartford, opened on Aug. 30, 2003, as the Huskies defeated Big Ten Conference member Indiana, 34-10.
UConn has now played 58 games in the facility over the past nine seasons and has posted an impressive 43-15 record at Rentschler Field – including perfect records in 2010 (6-0) and a 7-0 mark in 2007 to set a UConn single-season record for home wins.
The Huskies have sold out 29 of their 58 Rentschler Field games, including a streak of 12 in a row. UConn has played to a 98 percent of capacity during its time there before a total of 2,220,124 fans.
The building of the facility and its management was and is the result of incredible teamwork and dedication between the state’s Office of Policy and Management, the town of East Hartford, United Technologies Corporation and the assistance from numerous public and private sector organizations. The result of this cooperation gives the people of Connecticut the opportunity to view college football at its highest level in a world-class facility.
The natural grass playing surface of Rentschler Field is 26 feet below grade at the stadium and was resodded in the summer of 2011. Rentschler Field features stadium seating, outdoor chairback seating, fully enclosed club seats and luxury suites.
The tower at Rentschler Field includes levels for suites, club seating and media/game management facilities.
There are 38 suites in the stadium and more than 600 seats in the club area, which also includes a 12,000-square foot function area, which is used by club patrons on gameday and is available for meetings and social events the remainder of the year.
The outdoor seating area of Rentschler Field includes nearly 4,000 chairback seats with the rest being bleacher seating. Rentschler Field is unique in the fact that it has handicap accessible seating on the field level.
The media facilities are some of the most modern in the country with seating for 125 media members in the main press area. There are also separate booths for television and radio broadcasts. That level also includes booths for coaching staffs, security, public address announcer, scoreboard operation and other gameday facilities.
The concourses at Rentschler Field provide generous, open and barrier-free circulation for entering and exiting the facility. The concourse also provides easy access to various concession and novelty stands and restrooms.
The stadium features state-of-the-art facilities for members of the UConn football team, including an incredible locker room area.
The main UConn locker room is 3,750 square feet and has space for 125 players. There is also a coaches locker room, equipment area and medical training rooms.
There is also a spacious visiting team locker room area with similar amenities.
The audio and video facilities at Rentschler Field are some of the most advanced in the country. The sound system is de-centralized with approximately 300 digital-quality speakers providing the audio.
The west end of the stadium features a scoreboard that has a 24-foot by 32-foot video replay screen.
All parking for the stadium is located within the footprint of the stadium site – which makes it unique for a college football facility. In total, there are 10,600 parking spaces at the Rentschler Field site.
Rentschler Field features lighting with four towers in each corner of the stadium and a bank of lights on top of the press box.
Rentschler Field is a facility that was built for Connecticut, by Connecticut. Through a concerted effort, the stadium project far outpaced the state’s requirements to help small, women and minority-owned companies grow with ongoing economic development. This means contractors and individuals that may never before have been able to benefit from projects of this scale helped build their skills, their companies and their careers while they help build their community.
The various East Hartford area non-profit groups that staffed the concession stands on game days are able to generate approximately $65,000 on an annual basis through their work at the games.
Rentschler Field is also the home of the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame, which is located on the southwest concourse.
The stadium was developed by the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management. The facility was designed by the architectural firm Ellerbe Becket and the construction manager was Hunt/Gilbane joint venture. The primary tenant at Rentschler Field, which is operated by Bushnell Management Services, LLC, is the UConn football program.
In addition to UConn football, the stadium also played host to a pair of Bruce Springsteen concerts on Sept. 16 and 18, 2003, a concert by the Rolling Stones on Aug. 26, 2005 and the Police on July 31, 2007. It also has served as the home of the annual Governors’ Cup High School All-Star game between Connecticut and Rhode Island and has played host to college lacrosse games.
International rugby matches have been played at Rentschler Field in the summers of 2004, ’05 and ‘08.
The facility is becoming a mainstay in soccer. An exhibition soccer game between the British teams of Liverpool and Glasgow Celtic was played on July 26, 2004; an exhibition women’s soccer match between the United States and China on Aug. 1, 2004; a men’s World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago was played on Aug. 17, 2005; the United States men’s national team playing their final tuneup before 2006 World Cup against Latvia on May 28, 2006; an exhibition women’s soccer match between the United States and Norway on July 14, 2007; a World Cup sendoff match between the United States and the Czech Republic on May 25, 2010; and an exhibition women’s soccer match between the United States and Sweden on July 17, 2010.
In February of 2011, Whalers Hockey Fest was held at Rentschler Field as an ice rink was set up on the surface. The ten-day event hosted numerous hockey games, including a doubleheader which featured both the UConn men’s and women’s ice hockey teams.
Rentschler Field also served as the home of the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League in 2009 and ’10.
UConn received the Governor’s Leadership Award in December of 2003 for its efforts in the first year of play at Rentschler Field. The annual award is given to an individual or group that had done an outstanding job in bringing together a wide spectrum of people and resources to bear on a significant development issue in Connecticut. UConn was cited for working hard to assure that Rentschler Field was a significant economic resource for the greater Hartford region and a point of pride for the high quality of life in the area that business leaders seek.
The 75-acre site for the stadium was donated by United Technologies and sits on a former airfield — Rentschler Field — which opened in 1931 and saw the likes of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. In addition to the donation of the land for the stadium, UTC is allowing another 100 acres of its land to be used for gameday parking.
There is a display on the history of the site as an airfield in the stadium.
The “original” Rentschler Field was dedicated on May 24, 1931. The company air field served as a base for experimental flight tests of airplanes, engines and propellers and was also used for servicing and overhauling engines. In later years the airfield was used for general aviation for United Aircraft Corporation — now United Technologies Corporation. The field was de-commissioned as an active airport in the 1990s.