Rentschler Field was originally the name of the company airfield for Pratt & Whitney that formerly occupied the site. The airfield, which began operations in 1931, was named after Frederick Brant Rentschler, who founded the aircraft arm of Pratt & Whitney and later founded its current parent company, United Technologies. It was originally used for test flights and maintenance operations, and later for corporate aviation. The 75-acre (30 ha) site was decommissioned as an airport in the 1990s, and donated to the state of Connecticut by United Technologies in 1999. The company's contributions were not restricted to the airfield; it also allows the use of 100 acres (40 ha) of its corporate campus in East Hartford for game-day parking.
UConn has a lease agreement with the State of Connecticut that allows the UConn the right to use Rentschler Field for home football games, or any other event, with a minimum of 10 events per year. UConn makes payments to the state Office of Policy and Management for use of the stadium. It pays $170,000 per game, which doesn't include state revenues for parking and concessions.
The New England Patriots considered moving to Connecticut and sharing a stadium with the UConn football team, in the mid-1990s. The new stadium was supposed to be built on the Connecticut Convention Center site in downtown Hartford. However, when the Patriots completed the deal for Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the Hartford stadium plan was scaled down and the location was moved to East Hartford. The current capacity of 40,642 was designed with structure in place to expand to a 50,000-seat stadium or more, with limited rehabilitation.
In 2012, the State exercised a provision in their contract with Bushnell Management Services ending their contract 2 years early and putting it out to bid with the XL Center. In February 2013, Global Spectrum of Philadelphia, was chosen to take over both the XL Center and Rentschler Field with Ovations Food Services taking over all food and beverage operations.
The stadium hosts major concerts (such as Bruce Springsteen, the first artist to play the stadium, in 2003, The Rolling Stones in 2005, The Police in 2007, and Eminem in 2010. On September 21, 2013, UConn hosted the Michigan Wolverines and had a record attendance of 42,704. Over 2,000 temporary seats were added to the venue on either side of the scoreboard to accommodate the 5,000 visiting seating allotment that UConn agreed to give Michigan. The Huskies lost 24-21 to the Wolverines that game.
The Hartford Colonials were a United Football League team that played their home games at Rentschler Field. During their (2010 UFL season), the Colonials played all four home games at Rentschler, after having played one there the previous season while they were known as the New York Sentinels. Attendance at Colonials games averaged a consistent 15,000 people, third place in the five-team league behind Omaha and Sacramento. The UFL suspended the Colonials franchise in 2011, in part because of the high rent the stadium charged; the franchise was officially terminated when the team's former owner (Bill Mayer) was named as the new owner of a different franchise.