The Hartford Colonials, originally the New York Sentinels, were a professional American football team that played in the United Football League in its 2009 and 2010 seasons. A charter member of the UFL, the Sentinels began play in 2009 nominally representing New York City but playing its home games in three stadiums, none of which were in the city proper: Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut; Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, New York (on Long Island); and the now-demolished Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (The Sentinels had scheduled a game for Citi Field in Queens but relocated that game to Long Island.) As the Colonials, the team played all of its home games at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, representing the adjacent city of Hartford. League-wide financial problems and the high rate of rent at Rentschler Field led to the league suspending the Colonials' operations in August 2011, a month before it would have begun play in its third season. The league had stated that the Colonials could be brought back for the 2012 UFL season, if it were to be played, but the announcement of the 2012 season removed Hartford's logo (which had remained on the site in 2011, with indication it had been suspended) from the UFL Web site and did not include the team in the league's 2012 schedule.
The Colonials and Sentinels were historically the worst of the UFL's five teams, having a combined record of 3–11 (.214) and finishing in last place in both seasons. They hold the dubious distinction of accumulating the league's only winless record in 2009.
Both New York and Hartford were among the six inaugural teams originally announced for the 2009 season, along with Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Francisco. When the league contracted to four teams prior to the start of that season, Hartford's and New York's teams were merged into one, maintaining the New York name.
In February 2010, the team moved to Hartford, Connecticut for the 2010 season, a move initially opposed by team owner Bill Mayer. Through an online vote, fans were asked to select one of four names (Hartford Knights, Hartford Guardians, HartfordTravelers or Connecticut Yankees) to become the new team name, or to suggest a name not listed. The new name was announced as being the Hartford Colonials on March 14, 2010. "Colonials" was not one of the four names voters could choose from, but was said to become an "overwhelming favorite" among the fan suggested names. The team's logo and colors were revealed May 24, 2010 to have a blue and metallic gold scheme, the first of the UFL teams to have broken from the league's standardized color scheme.
Northland AEG, L.L.C., the operators of Rentschler Field, purchased a stake in the franchise upon the team's arrival in Hartford, though exactly what size share the company owned is unknown.
The Colonials presented a living history program that featured Revolutionary War soldiers with muskets, a horseman portraying Connecticut hero David Humphreys, and a period cannon and crew in the end zone that fired after every Colonials score, all interacting with fans before and during the home games. This was featured in video and on the web at their last game in 2010 against the Las Vegas Locomotives by ESPN.
The Colonials were a bellwether for many of the problems that would plague the league beginning at the end of the 2010 season; the team narrowly averted a strike in protest to a proposed transfer fee that would have effectively prevented players from signing on with a National Football League franchise after the season ended.
Palmer departed after the 2010 season to take the role of offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. In March 2011, the league named Jerry Glanville as the Colonials' head coach for the 2011 season. An agreement had not yet been secured for the team to return to Rentschler Field until June 2011; unpaid debts and a change in stadium management held up negotiations. The Colonials reached a deal with Rentschler Field in late June 2011.
Weeks after rumors surfaced that the team could be in danger of being contracted, the league suspended operations of the Colonials on August 10, 2011, and offered Glanville a position as a consultant with the league. Team owner Bill Mayer was transferred to the Virginia Destroyers.