UConn Tailgate/Visitors' Guide

UConn Tailgate/Visitors' Guide

 


State Capitol, City of Hartford

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.

 

First Things First: GETTING THERE

 

UConn is close for most Rutgers and Syracuse fans but others will have a bit further to go.  Pittsburgh and Morgantown based fans should expect 8-9 hour drives.  A word of advice:  try to avoid going through NJ.  You should look at driving up to Scranton, PA and take I-84 to CT.

 

Flights:

 

People can fly to Hartford inexpensively via Southwest Airlines or alternatively to Providence and Albany (and drive over). Of course, you can also fly into Boston (95 miles to East Hartford) or any of the Metro NYC airports. To my knowledge, there are no direct trains from NY or Boston (required change in New Haven or Springfield respectively). However, you can easily take a bus or drive from South Station in Boston or the Port Authority in the City to Hartford

 

UConn’s football stadium is located about 30 minutes west of Storrs in East Hartford (a separate city from Hartford ). The stadium is about three miles east of Downtown Hartford. In East Hartford, there is extremely easy access off I-84 at Silver Lane. From the west take I-84 East toward East Hartford. Follow I-84 East to Exit 58, ROBERTS STREET/SILVER LANE. On the Exit Ramp, keep to the right and continue straight through Silver Lane into the RENTSCHLER FIELD MAIN GATE. (Driving directions from other approaches can be found here)

 

Rentschler Field Maps

 

It is a great venue with seating close to the field. It was literally built on an old Pratt and Whitney Factory Airfield (Rentschler Airfield) and opened for the fall 2003 season.

 

Parking

 

You can park just outside the stadium if you have preferred VIP seating or access to a season parking pass. If not you can park in the general parking areas a bit farther out which is also where the RVs park. You will be parking your car on the old Runway/taxiways. You can catch a shuttle from the outlying lots to the stadium. For a Weeknight game, you will find folks entering the parking lot around 3:30pm . Saturday games depend on the kickoff time but expect the hardcore to arrive 4-5 hours prior to kickoff.

 

TAILGATING:


Tailgating at the Rent

UConn has a very restrictive tailgating policy in their official parking areas.

 

A quick summary of rules: Small propane grills are okay, kegs are not, no tailgating during the game or after! UConn fans have assured me this is much overstated. The major part of tailgating occurs after the game as the “hardcore kick back, grill and kibitz about the game crowd” takes over the parking lots. On Saturdays, some will bring TV’s and stay from after the game well into twilight (6 PM or beyond). No one is going to enforce the harsh rules that came out immediately after opening (as long as you don’t act like a jerk!); some Risk Manager (probably influenced by Hartford based companies) probably came up with that idiotic list.

 

They serve Beer in the Stadium (lots of variety too; everything from Sam Adams; Rolling Rock; Heineken; Corona ; and Bud … to local Brewpub pints.). This is not an on-campus facility. After the BC game in 2003, they stopped selling in the fourth quarter. There have been some alcohol problems on the runways, but mostly due to UConn “hanger ons” versus alumni or students. There’s still too much beer, but the police are on orders to deal with jerks appropriately. They generally do, sometimes a bit overzealously.

 


Rentschler Field

You won’t find large numbers of professional scalpers selling tickets around the stadium. It just isn’t part of the environment for UConn (YET). That’s not to say you won’t find some guy waving an extra ticket at the gate; I do not think you’ll find volumes of tickets available … but there will be some. The best spots to find tickets are at the end of the runways nearest the stadium or near the two gates on the other side of the stadium ( Silver Lane side). I predict they (scalpers) will arrive as Rentschler Field matures as a Big East Football Stadium and scalpers find out there is a market for extra tickets from Cuse, ‘Eers and other teams’ fans.

 

Another Tailgate/Parking Option is from “Pratt Club”

 

The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Club directly across from Rentschler Field runs a lot for tailgating. The Club is a five minutes walk from the stadium, right off Silver Lane...only $10 to park, easy in and easy access to the highways at the end of the game!! The back side exits right out to the I-84 entrance. Plenty of room to tailgate, convenient bathrooms and plenty of field space to throw the football!! Any questions, directions etc, feel free to email: JimKorner or by calling (860) 565-6236.

 

This is a great option for visiting fans. Looks like a good place to do a tailgate and the best thing is it looks like a right turn to get back to the freeway for fans. The benefit is it provides ease of access and doesn't get you at the end of the runway following 15,000 other cars. There is a lot of land (softball fields, etc); you can grill; and there is a clubhouse building for bathrooms.

 

And One More Tailgate Option:

 

The unofficial website of UConn tailgating holds regular tailgates in the parking lot of Silva’s Youth of Today Learning Center, 656 Silver Lane , right across the street from Rentschler Field.

Just east of the stadium is Town & Country Package Store 785 Silver Lane Phone# 860-569-1444 and the Super Stop and Shop (a full range grocery and pharmacy) at 940 Silver lane in Charter Oak Shopping Plaza Phone# 860-569-7050

LODGING (Close):

 

The bad news is not a lot of lodging located within walking distance. Two motels are located across the freeway on the north side but you can walk to the stadium.

The Days Inn (ph 860-289-4950, 333 Roberts St. offers nice accommodations at a moderate price.  NOTE: This was the Wellesley Inn until July 05 when it converted to the Days Inn.

The other close motel is the Holiday Inn and also offers nice rooms for a moderate price (860-528-9611, 363 Roberts St .)

If you reserve early you should be able to get a room in either motel for about $80 -$100 a night. Two-night minimum stays are not required which is great for quick trips.  I believe both have shuttles to the gate. Margarita’s Restaurant is large and has hosted get-togethers for opponents both pregame and post game. It is located across the street from the two motels.

 

Sheraton Hartford (ph 860-528-9703, 100 East River Dr. East Hartford)

This motel is bit farther away but is within walking distance (15 minutes tops with little to no traffic and they might shuttle your party if you ask).

 

LODGING (5-10 minutes away):

 

Two other hotels in East Hartford or Manchester but not within walking distance:

Clarion Suites (ph 860-643-5811, 191 Spencer St. Manchester)

 

EconoLodge (ph 860-569-1100, 490 Main St. East Hartford)

 

The Hilton Garden Inn is located in Glastonbury, a few miles south of the stadium.  You can enter the stadium through the Rentschler Field Willow Gate.  Expect to pay $120+.

 

LODGING options found in downtown Hartford (10 minutes away):

 

If you plan to just go to the game and you want a convenient place to “crash” the motels in East Hartford should be okay. If you want to be near more amenities you should try downtown Hartford. The cities of Vernon and Manchester also offer some lodging and are within 20 minutes of the stadium.

 

The Goodwin Hotel is a fabulous boutique hotel for this sized city. It was beautifully renovated about 12 years ago and has good restaurants and a nice bar. The Residence Inn by Marriott has a real nice property. The Marriott has also opened a second brand new huge hotel, this one is very upscale. The Hilton also is fairly new and just had a recent major renovation. If people want to stay in the nicer suburbs southwest of Hartford (closer to NY Metro area), the Farmington Marriott  or Courtyard by Marriott are very good hotels. Because they are business-focused, they likely will have plenty of rooms on weekend nights.

Goodwin Hotel Hartford Marriott

 

More info about Lodging can be found at the local city visitors' website.

 

SHOPPING:

 

A major mall – Buckland’s Hills Mall in Manchester, is only a few exits east: it has major department stores and most restaurants you would find around a typical core mall. (All the family chains)

The West Farms Mall in West Hartford is very nice and probably a bit more upscale than Buckland Hills. West Hartford Center (literally the town center) is pretty nice, with smaller stores, restaurants, etc.  Two other sources of shopping info in Hartford to keep your nonfootball watching spouse occupied for hours:

If your spouse wants to stay closer East Hartford has a few diversions.  

 

Shoppes at Buckland Hills West Farms Mall

 

DINING:

 

You can find several restaurants near the stadium (pizza, BBQ, etc...) Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant is located across the street from the two motels at 350 Roberts St. They have Margaritas, duh! As mentioned above this is a great choice for gatherings before or after the game. Just beware Margaritas is usually very crowded on gameday. As noted above, there are great numbers of options around the Buckland Hills Mall … like Macaroni Grill; Outback Steakhouse; Fridays; etc…

 

Other close by restaurant choices are available. 

 

Hartford Dining:

 

Hartford has a ton of places to eat. If you want to give Coach Calhoun some coin, stop in his sports bar restaurant. It has a very good reputation: It is located about two blocks from the Hartford Civic Center. Other places can be found around there and Union Train Station for those staying downtown.

 

There’s an Irish pub, The Half Door, that’s good by Hartford standards. The Half Door is not the biggest place and its closer to the West Hartford line in a somewhat sketchy area, but they go out of their way to host international soccer viewing parties and probably would make an effort to accommodate an enthusiastic group of visiting fans. It also has an outdoor patio to accommodate more people.  I have been told there are several very good Italian Restaurants on Franklin Ave. downtown.  A plug for a regular poster on the UConn internet board is Sully’s. It is located west of downtown Hartford.

 

Parking info for Downtown Hartford:

 

Plenty of garages and on street surface lots. The central core seems well lit and safe. Stay near the businesses + bars and you should be fine…that’s the mantra I would remember.


Downtown Hartford

GOLF:

There are a wide range of courses in the greater Hartford area.  Here are some choices for you to consider:

Rockledge Golf Club is a fairly easy, usually well maintained public course in West Hartford about a mile off I-84 (take exit 41).

Yardage:  reds: 5434, whites: 6069, blues: 6436.
Cost:   $34.50 to walk on weekends.

Lyman Orchards Golf Club features two top notch public courses, one designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr and one by Gary Player. Both are beautiful, well mantained and very challenging.  And both are ranked among the top 10 public courses in the state of Connecticut.  This club is located about 20 miles south of Hartford in Middlefield.

Yardage: RTJ blues: 7,011, Gary Player blues: 6,725
Cost: $59 to ride on the weekends (carts are mandatory).

Keney Park is a municipal course located in the City of Hartford, not far from downtown.  Built in 1927, it features small elevated undulating greens and tight fairways. The tee boxes tend to be mostly dirt and the fairways get dry and hardpan in the summer.  The neighborhood is also somewhat questionable.

Yardage: reds: 5005, whites: 5678, blues: 5969.
Cost: about $35 to walk on the weekends.

 

Rockledge Golf Club Lyman Orchards Golf Club

Another option is to play at Foxwoods Golf & Country Club , part of the Foxwoods Casino Complex (the wonder of it all), which is in South County, Rhode Island, about 45 miles southeast of Hartford.

Carved out of the woods of South County Rhode Island, Foxwoods Golf and Country Club is a respectful tribute to the classic New England golf course. Incorporated into the design are dramatic elevation changes offering panoramic views and natural contours of the scenic terrain that surrounds it. 

Yardage:  blues: 6,004 yards
Cost:  unknown but surely expensive

Gambling fans also have the option of stopping by the nearby Mohegan Sun Casino, one of the top casinos in the Eastern United States.

Hope this helps! TexanMark, Syracuse Fan.

A special thanks to UConn fans, “Pudge” and “DuzyPies”, for their help on this guide.

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark.  While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible`.  Please note that this guide is not endorsed by Scout.com, its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

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