Former University of Connecticut men’s soccer student-athlete Tony Rizza ’87 has pledged a total of $8 million to transform the soccer complex and build a brand-new state-of-the-art soccer stadium on the Storrs campus. The new facility will be built on the site of the current Joseph J. Morrone Stadium and will bear the same name. The overall soccer complex, which will include the new stadium as well as the existing training grounds and practice field adjacent to the stadium, will be named the Rizza Family Soccer Complex in recognition of this transformative gift.
“The gift is my way of recognizing coaches, faculty, and campus staff who helped me while I was at UConn and it’s a small way of saying thank you,” said Rizza. “My experience at UConn and, more specifically, with the men’s soccer program provided me with important life skill that have helped me succeed in my career.”
Rizza was coached by Morrone while at UConn and earned academic all-star recognition. “To be a successful student-athlete at a high level like UConn, one must be disciplined, dedicated, motivated and focused on achieving goals,” he said. “I learned this during my four years playing soccer in Storrs, and I have used it in my professional life every day since the day I graduated.”
He has challenged the UConn community to match his gift of $5 million to transform Morrone Stadium. This matched gift challenge, along with an earlier pledge of $3 million, makes Tony the biggest donor to UConn Athletics.
A Tradition of Success
Rizza is part of a long tradition of athletic success at UConn, as the men’s and women’s soccer teams are no exception to the proud Husky tradition of producing champions:
- UConn men’s soccer has won three NCAA championships and earned 16 consecutive berths in the NCAA tournament.
- The men’s soccer team put UConn on a national stage in athletics, winning UConn’s first NCAA men’s championship in any sport in 1981.
- UConn women’s soccer has earned 26 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament and made trips to two national championship games and seven national semifinals.
- Men’s soccer head coach Ray Reid holds a 394-97-61 record at UConn.
- Women’s head coach Len Tsantiris—who played soccer at UConn as a student—enjoys a stellar 511-180-50 record.
About Joseph J. Morrone Stadium
Joseph J. Morrone Stadium was built in 1969 and has undergone several major renovations since, thanks to both state funds and private contributions through the UConn Friends of Soccer support organization. It draws an average of more than 4,000 fans for each men’s soccer game—a top-five attendance record among college programs since 1999—and in 2007 and 2011 saw both teams advance to and host the NCAA Quarterfinals.
A Home for Champions
UConn student-athletes rise to the challenge every day, both on the field and in the classroom. The skills they learn as team members help them long after they graduate, and donors like Tony Rizza are a testament to the value of UConn athletics.