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Report: NASL in discussions with prospective ownership group to expand into Hartford

Bill Peterson NASL


The NASL’s latest expansion efforts could see the league increase it’s footprint in the Northeast.

The Hartford Courant reported Tuesday that the NASL is currently in talks with a prospective ownership group based in Hartford, Connecticut. Commissioner Bill Peterson was quick to praise the city as a soccer market, but did not reveal details regarding the identity of the potential ownership or the league’s expansion plans.

“I personally believe Hartford would be a highly successful market,” Peterson said, according to the Courant. “It has a long track record of drawing great crowds for soccer matches, whether it’s U.S. soccer or some of the exhibitions that have been held over the years. There’s great participation and a great following for the national teams, and there’s a great following for professional teams. So we’re pretty confident that a team there in that area, put together correctly, managed correctly, would be very successful.”

If expansion were to find its way into Hartford, the team would likely make a home at a renovated Dillon Stadium, which seats about 10,000 people. Rentschler Field, which is no stranger to hosting U.S. Men’s National Team contests and holds 40,000 fans, is considered too big.

“You can put 20,000 people in a 60,000-seat stadium and you should be pretty proud,” Peterson said,. “But people will look at it and say it’s only a third full.”

A Hartford-based team would act as a natural rival to the New York Cosmos, the league’s only other team in the Northeast.

Peterson, who has connections to Hartford through his time as president of the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials, believes that the state of Connecticut has the resources, and the motivation, to support its own team.

“I think it’s a fantastic sports market,” Peterson said. “I think there are a lot of sports fans in the Hartford area. I like it from a business perspective because the companies that are there are very supportive of the community and teams with the community, the media companies that are there … you end up with a statewide deal. It’s not just Hartford. A lot of the sponsorship and the media deals will get into the entire state. So I know they’ll call it Hartford, but it’s really a Connecticut team.

“I have no doubt that if done correctly, it could be really, really successful there. It would fit in great with our league and the teams we have on the East Coast. It would be fantastic.”

What do you think of potential Hartford expansion? How would a team fare in Connecticut? What other locations would you like to see the NASL investigate for potential expansion?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. Head to the and click on the “call to arms” to sign up for more info about becoming a supporter of the future NASL club in Hartford. The armory will be the section that will hold the multiple supporters groups of the new team. Stock the armory now!

  2. MLS and NASL should be relegate system but instead of tossing possible cities around it should be can we find ownerships and let them say what city

  3. Absolutely love the prospect of more pro soccer coming to New England. Providence (Rhode Island) is the other New England city that I’ve always felt NASL or USL Pro should seriously consider for expansion.

  4. Cautiously optimistic about this. As a Hartford area resident, I can’t deny that there is a very large youth soccer community, as well as mild support for UCONN soccer (if they could only get those games out of Storrs…).

    But our history of supporting pro sports is abysmal. If an ownership group could coordinate this with the new MiLB stadium being built downtown, with an adjacent facility that shared parking, security, concessions, etc., it could be interesting, Dillon Stadium is in the middle of nowhere, and hasn’t been able to support a semi-pro level team for more than 4 years since it was built in the 1960’s. Find somewhere else.

  5. Hartford would be the perfect location for a NASL team for all the reason stated in the article. And I can’t wait to be there for the first game!!

  6. Hartford is exactly the type of city and demographic the NASL should be shooting for. The area has shown to be supportive of the USMNT/USWNT. I’ve been there on my travels for work and it comes across as having a well supported soccer community. I’m hopeful they can land a team. I’m hopeful this ownership group is viable and willing to do what the can to make a club successful. Just throwing cities out there but maybe the likes of Detroit, Milwaukee, Omaha, Nashville, New Orleans, El Paso, Albuquerque, Quebec City, and Calgary could be candidates down the road.

  7. Would love to see Hartford. Along with Detroit, San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Baltimore. NASL should look at markets that will work in NASL, but where MLS won’t poach as easily.

      • Well, that’s sort of my point – without the condescension. MLS is obviously Division 1, and they will get their pick of cities. So instead of cultivating a fan base and grooming the next MLS expansion city, why not go after those viable second-tier cities? MLS has shown that they are afraid of Tijuana, so San Diego will have trouble getting their attention. But the economics are different for NASL so maybe that could work. MLS doesn’t want to step on DC United or San Jose’s toes, so Baltimore and San Francisco are screwed for the time being.

      • By the way, if you look at the other pro franchises in these cities, I don’t think it’s accurate to call them second division cities. As for Austin, one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country with great demographics for soccer. An up and coming league could do well with franchises in these cities.

        If you’re not being serious and just trying to bust balls, then that’s fine, but I disagree with your assessment and didn’t want to give the impression that I did.

      • I’m half kidding. Having grown up and spent most of my life in the NYC area, condescension towards the rest of the country is part of my DNA. On the other hand, while NYC is a great city, it isn’t a great soccer town, which I think will be very obviously soon with NYCFC.

        Actually, I’ve been to all of the places you mention and many of them are quite nice.

  8. It’s funny how down in Mexico, every sports journalist is stating that impacts new goalkeeper comes from the NASL, the second division in the US.
    I’m not lying to you guys, every damn mexican journalist is saying NASL is division 2. I wonder how Garber and Peterson feel about that 🙂
    As for NASL, hopefully they just get bought by MLS and MLS creates what we are waiting for, MLS2. How about that.


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