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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The University of Hartford is an independent, nonsectarian coeducational university spanning the cities of West Hartford, Hartford and Bloomfield, Connecticut. It has a student body of more than 7,000 students housed on a 350 acre campus. It is a relatively new school by New England and Connecticut standards, as it was chartered in 1957. The main academic programs are the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture, and the School of Business.
The school’s athletic teams are known as the Hawks and they all play within the university’s central sports complex. The Hawks baseball team is headquartered at Fiondella Field, which has a seating capacity of 1,000. Due to the cold temperatures that can linger well into the spring, the stadium features FieldTurf with dirt cutouts around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.
Fiondella Field has aluminum bleacher seating, so you may want to bring a seat cushion on one of the cold early spring days.
The team competes in the America East Conference which includes Albany, Binghamton, Maine, UMBC, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, UMass, and Vermont. Among the notable baseball alums from the University of Hartford are Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros and Earl Snyder with the Cleveland Indians.
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The University of Hartford has all of its athletic programs in one centralized sports complex and the concession stand services the baseball, softball and lacrosse/soccer fields. It offers hot dogs at $3, sodas and water at $3, popcorn at $2 and chips, and assorted candies for $1.50. On cold weather days coffee and hot chocolate are available for $2.
Having an on-campus facility is always going to be a plus for any sports program, as it allows potential recruits to see what a central role sports can play in campus life. What they will see is a very energized fan base that follows the team very closely and knows the players on a first name basis. There is also a good turnout from visiting teams as it is a tight knit conference geographically, which also adds to the competitive atmosphere and vibe of the games.
The University of Hartford is located in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in all of New England. Hartford is headquarters to many corporate giants, especially in the insurance and financial fields. The homes of the CEOs for many of these companies line Prospect Avenue, which is the main road used to access the campus from I-84. As a result there are not any shops or restaurants immediately adjoining the campus. They are located about two miles from the Hartford campus.
By contrast, the city of Hartford has been through some tough economic times recently, but is on the rebound, with lots of new restaurants and other entertainment offerings opening up. Some of the nightspots that are popular with the locals are City Steam Brewery Café (which also includes the Brewhaha Comedy Club), and Black Eyed Sally's BBQ and Blues. This eatery and blues club has had a bevy of performers on its stage over the years including members of the Allman Brothers Band, David Crosby and Graham Nash. Hartford also has a very strong farm to table movement and the weekend farmer's markets are very popular with the residents.
Fiondella Field is located across the street from a large segment of on-campus housing. All students have to do is cross the street in order to enjoy a ball game. As a result the University of Hartford has one of the larger percentages of students attending games of any school in Connecticut. In addition, the Hawks opposition is usually from one of the adjoining states, so fans travel well in their league. Fiondella Field offers a very up to date facility and the fans tend to appreciate it. Leading the cheers is school mascot Howie the Hawk.
The University of Hartford is easily accessible by plane, train, automobile and bus. Bradley International Airport is 15 miles from the campus, with direct shuttles running on a regular basis. Those arriving by train will arrive via downtown Hartford's Union Station and have an 8-10 minute cab ride to the university. The Connecticut Transit bus system provides both regional and local bus routes to the campus. Visitors coming to the campus via car are able to park in Lot M on campus at no charge (this is the lot serving Hartford's athletic complex).
Tickets for Hawks games are $6 for adults and $4 for seniors (over 62), faculty, staff and alums, and children (12 and under). University of Hartford students can attend free through their student activity fee. The concessions are reasonably priced and the campus can be easily reached via public transportation.
Being the capital city of Connecticut, Hartford has much to offer visitors. In addition to the typical government museums, the city has two homes/museums that salute authors with a Hartford Heritage. Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) lived in the city from 1874-1891 in a 25 room Gothic mansion, which has now been turned into a museum. His most famous works; Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court were all written during his time in Hartford.
The second author with a Hartford base was Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and her house is also on display.
Other extras in town are the XL Center, a 16,000 seat multi-purpose venue that hosts some UConn basketball, the Hartford Wolf Pack minor league hockey team, and all of the major concert acts that pass through town. Hartford also puts on one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country every summer, attracting an average of 55,000 jazz fans over a three day period.
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942 Main St
Hartford, CT 06103
351 Farmington Ave
Hartford, CT 06105
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