Major League Soccer is coming to Connecticut.
Governor Ned Lamont announced on Friday afternoon that the MLC club Toronto FC reached an agreement with the state to make Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford its temporary home, as the league advances into the second phase of its scheduling following a shutdown due to covid-19 just weeks into its 2020 season.
Toronto FC’s first match inside its new home while be on Sunday, Sept. 27, when it hosts Columbus Crew SC.
“Pratt & Whitney Stadium is an ideal location for professional soccer, and I am excited that we’ve reached an agreement with Toronto FC to have the club play their home games here,” Governor Lamont said. “Our state is filled with thousands of MLS fans who no doubt will be excited by this news. I thank Toronto FC’s management team for working with my administration to finalize this agreement, and we look forward to having the Reds in Connecticut.”
The match against Columbus is the only current home contest on Toronto’s schedule, but more are expected to be added as MLS finalizes its travel protocols.
“While we continue to work with government officials on our travel protocols, it is important to the club to have our own home away from home during this next phase,” Toronto FC President Bill Manning said in Friday’s press release. “The State of Connecticut opened their arms for us and my compliments to David Lehman and Governor Lamont for their leadership here. Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field is a great venue. They’ve hosted a number of international games and we’re excited to play there.”
Pratt & Whitney Stadium is normally the home for UConn football, but the Huskies canceled their season due to coronavirus concerns.
Governor Lamont recently tried to bring a Toronto team to the Constitution State when the Toronto Blue Jays were looking for a home in the US for MLB’s 2020 season. Lamont had a few “informal” discussions with the Blue Jays about playing at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, but Toronto instead elected to play its home games in Buffalo. But now, a different pro team will be coming to Connecticut.
“We felt that it was important to have a surrogate home field that had similarities to BMO Field, in dimension, surface characteristics, and field quality,” Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis said. “Also, from a competitive standpoint, a priority was to have our own home field. While playing at BMO Field is always our preferred and ideal option, we think the East Hartford location is the best available option for this next phase.”
Toronto FC is currently second in the Eastern Conference in the MLS standings, with 21 points and a record of 6-3-2.