Soccer has always managed to thrive in Connecticut. The UConn soccer program consistently competes for conference and national championships, and fans have packed Rentschler Field numerous times for United States men’s national team games. The national team’s supporters group, the American Outlaws, boasts about 35,000 paying members, including 450 members in its Hartford chapter, and recently started another chapter in New Haven.
This support for both UConn soccer and the national team through the American Outlaws led to the creation of the Armory, the supporters section for Hartford’s incoming North American Soccer League (NASL) team. Although no official announcement has been made, the creation of the Armory signals a step in right direction toward making professional soccer in Hartford a reality.
“There’s a lot of things at play behind the scenes that we as supporters have no control over,” said Tom Lovkay, president-elect of American Outlaws Hartford and leader of the Armory. “The contact we have had within the club has been very promising to this point, which has prompted the creation of ‘the Armory.’”
The Armory is named after the historic Colt Armory, famous for its blue onion dome with gold stars and located across from Dillon Stadium, which is expected be renovated by 2017, when the team is most likely to play its first game. Funding for renovation of Dillon Stadium has not yet been allocated.
That same blue dome is the inspiration for the Armory’s logo, which depicts the dome in white with black stars and a soccer ball where the gold tip would be on the actual building.
With the creation of the Armory, the section hopes to gain support on social media in order to give the team a quality, supportive atmosphere once they arrive. AO Hartford has already pledged support to the Armory, and wants to help gain as many supporters to prove Hartford is more than worthy of an NASL franchise.
“With the already blossoming support from the American Outlaws in Hartford, the team has its full backing and support moving forward,” Lovkay said. “We see no way in which this club will not get the support it deserves and we cannot wait to provide it.”
Where The Armory differs from the American Outlaws is that it is a supporters section. With no name yet for the supporters group, Lovkay wanted the Armory to unite fans of pro soccer in Hartford as it becomes closer to a reality.
“The Armory is not the name of the supporters group of the club, but a blanket name much like ‘the Fort’ in New England and ‘the Wall’ in Orlando,” Lovkay said, referring to the supporters sections of the New England Revolution and Orlando City in Major League Soccer. “We wanted supporters to have something to call home and we think the Armory gives them that as we continue to assemble as supporters.”