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A Letter to Fans from Bruce Mandell

January 20, 2021 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Hartford Athletic News Release


Dear Fans,

Thank you for your support of Hartford Athletic and the Greater Hartford Community throughout 2020. In spite of the challenges of the pandemic, we accomplished so much together. We have the best fans and partners in America, and together we can achieve anything. Here are some of the accomplishments made possible with your support in 2020:

We became the first professional sports team in the state (and one of the first in the country) to play games in our home market after the onset of the pandemic, as well as one of the first to host fans in the stands. We worked closely with the City and the State to create protocols to allow us to operate safely at limited capacity, and although smaller in numbers, you brought the noise while diligently following health protocols at the same time. Thank you to our City and State leaders for making this possible and to all of the healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly to keep us safe.

Whether you were in the stadium, at home, or at a drive-in watch party, you continued to prove that you're the most avid fans around. We saw a 300% increase in viewership between MyTV9 and ESPN+, our first national telecast on ESPN2 (with 50,000 viewers!), and the 4th highest social media engagement rate in the league with 15 million impressions across channels.

We won Group F and achieved our goal of making the playoffs for the first time in club history. In the process, our players and staff did not record a single positive COVID-19 test this season as they adhered to strict testing and protocols.

Returning Captain Danny Barrera's spectacular goal against Philadelphia Union II, dubbed "The Immaculate Deflection", went viral and appeared on SportsCenter, The Dan Patrick Show, and news outlets around the world. We followed that Top 10 Goal with another one off the foot of Conor McGlynn to clinch Group F in front of our amazing supporters who watched the road match from a parking garage (hats off to the Mad Hat Massive, 19th Regiment, Elm City Casuals, East Side Rising, The Boonies and Raza Brava). Beer, pizza, drums, and trumpets were seen and heard.

We launched the Green and Blue Foundation and unveiled our Community Platform underpinned by our five pillars of support: Health & Wellness, Diversity & Inclusion, Youth & Family Education, Economic Development, and Veterans & First Responder Support. With the help of our many corporate partners, we made a difference in the community including raising nearly $20,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, donating over 15,000 meals to Foodshare, and supporting over a dozen local businesses that participated in Shop for A Cause. Thank you to our Founding Partners Trinity Health of New England, The Hartford, Stanley Black & Decker, Travelers, and Cigna as well as to all of our 32 corporate partners and our 30 Business Alliance and Pub Partners for your continued support and investment in our community.

We sold out every game thanks to our Season Ticket Members and Supporters. Special thank you to our season ticket holders who graciously donated the value of tickets for matches that were canceled to the Club. We have already added several hundred new Season Ticket Members for next season and are excited to keep growing. If you are interested in becoming a Season Ticket Member, please visit www.hartfordathletic.com/seasontickets.

As we look ahead to 2021, we are excited to announce our new Head Coach, Harry Watling. Harry joins us from West Ham United of the Premier League where he served as Head Coach in their prestigious Academy program. He is a young, exciting and hungry coach who is highly regarded as a rising star in England and who specializes in developing and maximizing talent. We will be hosting a virtual Fan Forum on Thursday January 21st where you can meet our new Head Coach and ask him any questions you have about the team. Please join us and register here.

We are also happy to share that Danny Barrera, Alex Lara, Conor McGlynn, Arthur Rogers, Gabriel Torres, and Alfonso Vazquez are returning from last season's squad. This core group is one that will build on the success we had last season, and with the support of a number of talented new signings will lead us deep into the playoffs. We have already announced three new signings, midfielder Nii Armah Ashitey, defender Younes Boudadi and goalkeeper Carlos Merancio and we have many more exciting announcements coming soon.

The USL Championship Board of Governors has given approval to explore an early May start date, and we expect to play a full slate of matches in 2021. Given the success we had working with our City and State officials in 2020, we are confident that we will be able to host fans the entire season. As soon as more information becomes available, we will share it with you.

Although 2020 was a trying year for all of us, I'm amazed, energized and uplifted by the support of our fans and corporate partners. Together, we brought life, excitement and a winning culture to Hartford. We continue to deepen our roots in the community, enhance the lives of those in need, and work hard every day to make our home the best place to live, work, and play.

Now for my 2021 guarantee... Raza Brava drum roll please - this year we win a playoff game!

If you haven't bought season tickets yet, please do so as soon as possible; seating may still be limited in 2021 and we need you with us to accomplish all our goals!!

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me directly at brucem@hartfordathletic.com.

Best,

Bruce


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