- Dave Cottenie
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field - Connecticut Huskies
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field
615 Silver Lane
East Hartford, CT 06118
Connecticut Huskies Football website
Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field website
Year Opened: 2003
Husky and the Jets
The proposed relocation of the New England Patriots was a bit of a tease for Hartford. The Connecticut government was prepared to build a new, downtown stadium appropriate for the NFL's Patriots and the University of Connecticut Huskies football program. History would teach us that the Patriots would be unwilling to leave Massachusetts and the dream of the NFL in Connecticut would die.
However, a stadium was still needed for UConn, and the former airfield for Pratt and Whitney, manufacturer of fine jet engines, in East Hartford, would be the location of a scaled-down football stadium. Originally named Rentschler Field after Frederick Rentschler, who founded Pratt and Whitney and its parent company United Technologies, Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field opened in 2003 with a modest capacity of over 38,000.
The University of Connecticut began as the Storrs Agricultural College in 1881 and would begin playing football in 1896. Eventually becoming the University of Connecticut, the Huskies would play Division 1-AA when they made the jump to Division 1-A, or FBS as it is currently known. UConn has had a bit of a love/hate relationship with football. Widely regarded as a basketball school, UConn has a 3-3 record in six bowl appearances as of the 2022 season. Hope is on the horizon with a 2022 appearance in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.
Food & Beverage 5
Considering that UConn is not a traditional football power that has a massive draw and the stadium is not on campus, Pratt and Whitney Stadium has a surprisingly strong concession scene. All of the expected stadium food is available at a variety of concession stands. Some spots that may pique the interest include the Sausage Guy, Fresh Classics, Chick-fil-A, Chicken Fry Fry, Randy’s Wooster St. Pizza, and Dude’s Donuts. Bears BBQ has an excellent BBQ selection for New England, but the spot to choose may be Ted’s. The famous Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburger is a Connecticut original and a must-try for the uninitiated.
The beer selection at Rentschler Field is among the best in all college sports. Two Roads Taproom provides local brews from their brewery and the Sam Adams Brewhouse also provides the staple New England suds. Tito’s Stillhouse provides other drink options also. Considering that there is pretty much no neighborhood around the stadium, fans do not have to worry about having to go hungry at the game or being satisfied with simply hot dogs and popcorn.
Pratt and Whitney Stadium is a fairly simple design. There is plenty of exposed concrete in the stadium. The south side of the stadium provides the best exterior view with the ticket windows and large glass and siding structure that houses the pressbox and suites. There is nothing really around the stadium other than areas for parking.
Inside, the stadium is very open and, as mentioned previously, there is plenty of exposed concrete. Various points in the stadium have murals to make it more attractive including the “Welcome to The Rent” mural. The astute explorer will find the history of Pratt & Whitney and Frederick Rentschler available in the stadium. Small historical tidbits can be found on each of the columns around the main concourse right when fans enter the seating bowl.
The field runs from east to west and the south side is the place to be for that perfect center logo picture. The south side also has the pressbox and suites and features banners for the Huskies’ Bowl appearances and Big East championships. The southwest corner features a banner commemorating all of the championships UConn earned before moving to FBS, most of which were in the Yankee Conference. The east end concourse has an attractive memorial to Jasper “Jazz” Howard, who lost his life in 2009.
The gameday production has elements of a typical college production. Gameday begins with the Husky Walk at Gate C, 3 hours before kickoff, where fans can welcome the players to the stadium. The Pride of Connecticut marching band plays outside of the stadium and then welcomes the players to the field before taking their place in the northeast corner of the stadium, behind the endzone.
A guest rings the Victory Bell in the northeast corner, which is also rung by a member of the band after touchdowns. The band plays during halftime and throughout the game at key moments. The Huskies have a traditional mascot, Jonathan, who can be found around the stadium taking part in promotions, and a live mascot, Jonathan XIV.
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field is located in East Hartford near the campus of Pratt & Whitney. It is over 20 miles from the stadium to the main campus of UConn in Storrs. There is no neighborhood immediately surrounding the stadium and there is plenty of space. The opportunity for tailgating at UConn is strong and there is a decent selection of fans who partake in the pregame tradition. For fans who wish to find a place to go for pre or post-game fare, heading west, across the Connecticut River, to downtown may be the best idea. There are a few spots on Silver Lane, but not many. Try Toby’s, Malibu Sports Ba,r or Carl’s BBQ and Jerk.
UConn fields a host of other athletic teams, of which basketball is the most prominent. Depending on the game, the basketball team can be found on campus at Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center in downtown Hartford. UConn hockey is making the move away from XL Center, back to campus to the brand new Toscano Family Ice Forum. XL Center is also the home of the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL and the shiny, new Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats is nearby for fans looking for some Double-A Baseball. Fans may also want to consider checking out the Pratt & Whitney Hangar Museum while in East Hartford. For fans looking to stay near the stadium, the Comfort Inn & Suites East Hartford is very close by.
For the 2022 season, there has been a significant increase in fan attendance at UConn games. UConn averages between 22,000 and 25,000 fans per game. There is a solid tailgating scene at the Rent also. The game that was reviewed saw only 15,000 fans come through the turnstiles, but the noise level the fans bring is surprisingly loud considering the number of fans and the openness of the stadium.
It is understandable, with over 20 miles to get to the stadium from campus, but the student section, which is in the east endzone, is one of the most invisible in college football. Fans in attendance seem adept at complaining about everything on the field including offensive and defensive play calls and any call made by a referee. More consistency with their attendance and another increase for the next season will push the fan score a little higher going forward.
Rentschler Field is located just south of I-84 and east of the Connecticut River and Highway 2. It is 22 miles west of the main campus in Storrs, Connecticut. Getting in and out of the stadium is not as difficult as one might expect. The traffic situation has been studied and the stadium operators work hard to keep traffic flowing and lanes marked with pylons.
With a greater number of fans in attendance, this could be a different story. Parking will go for $20. For fans wanting public transit, there are buses on Silver Lane, north of the stadium. Fans should check out the Connecticut Transit website for fares, maps, and schedules. Getting around the stadium is easy due to its openness and the number of fans in attendance. Washroom facilities are adequate for the number of fans in attendance.
Return on Investment 4
UConn football provides a surprisingly high return for the sporting investment. Tickets are very reasonable, if not cheap, running from $30 down to $10. Parking will be $20 and concession prices are what one would expect. The product on the field has been suspect for a few years, but the turnaround under Coach Jim Mora in 2022 has breathed new life into the program. UConn does what it can to provide the expected college experience and for fans who like to tailgate, the infrastructure at The Rent is there. Overall, UConn football offers a solid return on a comparatively small investment.
An extra mark for UConn to know where their bread is buttered. To put themselves in the best possible basketball situation, UConn left the American Athletic Conference for the Big East. However, the Big East no longer sponsors football, so UConn has become independent. An extra mark for Rentschler Field is the home of Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, during the pandemic. An extra mark for the revival of the UMass-UConn football rivalry.
When it comes to College Football, UConn may not be the program that fans think of right away. However, the Huskies have only a couple of BCS rivals in New England and put together a strong gameday package that fans will enjoy. A trip to The Rent willl surprises fans and has them considering a return trip.
Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and Instagram.