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  October 23, 2000

Football Stadium Takes Shape at
Rentschler Field Site in East Hartford

A groundbreaking ceremony at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Friday marked a new milestone in the process of elevating the University's football program to national status.

Rentschler Field will be a 40,000-seat football stadium that will serve as home field for UConn football and for other sports and entertainment events.

"The stadium project represents one more exciting example of UConn's dramatic progress on multiple fronts, said UConn President Philip E. Austin. "We are honored to be a major contributor to Connecticut's educational, economic and cultural vitality, and we are delighted to be part of this public-private partnership."

The $90-million Rentschler Field is a state-funded project proposed by Gov. Rowland as part of his urban revitalization agenda and approved by the General Assembly.

"The transformation of Rentschler Field exemplifies the significant progress that is being made here in East Hartford and across the river in Hartford towards creating a bright future for our capital region, and building on the success of UConn athletics," said Gov. John G. Rowland.

The UConn football program will be the primary tenant at Rentschler Field, which will be managed by Madison Square Garden.

The Rentschler Field development coincides with the elevation of UConn's football program to Division 1-A, positioning it to compete at major college football level as a member of The Big East Football Conference.

"UConn athletics provide a singular and unifying source of pride for the people of Connecticut," said Lew Perkins, director of athletics. "In supporting the stadium, Connecticut's citizens have expressed confidence that we can bring the tradition of athletic excellence at UConn to our Division 1-A football program. When completed, this will be the newest stadium in The Big East Football Conference, assuring our student athletes, and the many people who support our program, a first-class football experience."

The natural grass Rentschler Field playing surface will be 26 feet below grade at the stadium, which will feature stadium seating, club seats and 40 luxury suites. UConn will play the first college football game ever to be played at Rentschler Field's gridiron against Rutgers on Aug. 30, 2003.

The new state-of-the-art facility will span 8.5 acres of the 75-acre site contributed by United Technologies.

Rentschler Field is named for Frederick Rentschler, who founded Pratt and Whitney in 1925. The company is now owned by United Technologies.

Friday's event, attended by UConn officials and boosters, state and local government officials, UTC officials, and members of the Rentschler family, was hosted by Mayor Timothy Larson of East Hartford.