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University Park Highlights Regional Impact of Athletics

Apr 01, 2019

UPark_BoardUniversity Park is a tri-town regional organization that facilitates communication, collaboration, and service activities to support its members and the larger community. The University Park Association includes Greater Hartford business, educational, non-profit, and governmental organizations.

Building Value Through Community Collaboration

Mark K. McGovern, Director of Community Development for the Town of West Hartford agrees. “University Park presents a great forum for community-minded organizations to network, share ideas, and build partnerships,” he said. “Having personal relationships with so many leaders in the area around the University of Hartford is incredibly valuable for me personally and for the Town of West Hartford.”

Board member Laura Dinan Haber, who is Director of Strategic Events & Brand Activation at the MetroHartford Alliance, underscored the importance of making and growing relationships in the region. “The Association shares information, opportunities, and knowledge that create awareness about our neighboring companies and organizations,” she said. “Collaboration is key to expanding our regional network.

Laura worked with Annie Keith, Chief Operating Officer at the Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford to bring in speakers for the association’s latest meeting.

Hartford-Area Athletics Encourage Community Engagement and Make an Economic Impact

Presenters from Hartford Athletic, the Hartford Yard Goats, and the University of Hartford Department of Athletics discussed the economic impact athletics has in the Hartford region. They all emphasized community engagement, community partnership, and giving back.

Hartford Yard Goats — Part of the Community in Hartford and Beyond

The Yard Goats provides a unique experience in Hartford for people of all ages, said Jeff Dooley, Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, and the “Voice of the Yard Goats.” But it’s not just about baseball, he noted. “We work to ensure we’re part of the community, not just selling tickets to games.”

Community involvement is year-round and off-season, with events like Fan Fest, a free event that engages fans with behind-the-scenes tours, arts and crafts activities, and batting cages.

Giving back is important to the Yard Goats, too. The Yard Goats Foundation provides social, educational, and scholarship opportunities for Hartford-area youth. The Foundation also supports helps raise funds for Connecticut charities.

University of Hartford Athletics — A Source of Pride in Connecticut

Creating an experience is also paramount to the University of Hartford Athletics’ mission, noted Craig Sandlin, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at the University of Hartford. Not only that, University athletics help put Connecticut on the map, creating media attention at a national level.

“Division athletics add value and help an institution grow,” said Craig. The University often positions coaches in community to network, recruit, and give back. The University of Hartford Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) also gives back throughout the year with initiatives and activities.

Hartford Athletic — Creating New Sports Opportunities in Hartford

Hartford Athletic is bringing professional soccer to Hartford, creating a new activity for the community and an additional revenue stream that impacts the city and the region.

“We want to bring vibrancy to the city—and create post-game engagement, too,” emphasized Donovon Powell, Chief Operating Officer for Hartford Athletic.

The soccer team will make its home in Hartford’s Dillon Stadium, which has a 5,000-person venue capacity. Hartford Athletic is restoring the historic stadium and creating a community asset. Once restored, the stadium will be available for local high schools and colleges.

Community building is integral to creating and sustaining momentum for pro soccer in Hartford. The organization plans to celebrate soccer and Hartford with engagement activities including neighborhood bus rides to home games and community pre-game festivals.

In partnership with the Gitlin Family, Hartford Athletic plans to donate 2,000 tickets to the Hartford community during the team’s inaugural season. The Boys and Girls Club of Hartford will be the first recipient.

Athletics Makes an Impact in Greater Hartford

All three athletic organizations make a significant economic impact in Hartford and the region, creating revenue for local hotels, transportation companies, and restaurants.

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