Professional soccer finally is returning to Hartford.
United Soccer Leagues awarded a franchise to Hartford Sports Group on July 11. The new club, Hartford Athletic, plans to debut at a renovated Dillon Stadium in 2019.
The arrival of the second-division team marks the end of a successful bid to obtain government funding to renovate the historic ground located in the South End of Hartford.
Local and state authorities agreed to invest $10 million to upgrade the outdated stadium earlier this year. The Capital Region Development Authority is overseeing the project to modernize the infrastructure at the stadium — including amenities, bathrooms, locker rooms and press facilities — and replace the field and the surrounding bleachers.