The city of Hartford swore in a new mayor on New Year's Day, and Luke Bronin's top task to begin his tenure is figuring out a solution for the Hartford Yard Goats' ongoing stadium issues. The 36-year-old mayor, who will have a formal swearing-in celebration on Monday, is prioritizing economic development specifically at the stadium, according to the Hartford Courant.
Bronin spoke the Courant about the ongoing stadium issues surrounding the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate:
"Clearly, at this point, the team and the developers both need to be sitting at the same table and developing a plan for getting this stadium built and playing baseball. I have already been familiarizing myself with the contracts. I will be asking some other folks to familiarize themselves with the contracts."
As optimistic as all that sounds, though, the budget isn't going to budge, at least as far as Bronin and the city are concerned:
"The city of Hartford will have put in close to $70 million on this baseball stadium, between the money spent on the ballpark construction itself and infrastructure around the baseball stadium. That's more than the city of Hartford ever should have spent and could afford to have spent."
As we reported last week, the city is now at odds with the developer and construction company, both of whom are seeking budget help from the city council to complete the stadium as proposed and on time ahead of the Yard Goats' April 7 home opener.
Theoretically, options still exist for the Yard Goats if they are unable to start the season in their now-controversial Dunkin' Donuts Park; New Britain Stadium, which the franchise left behind after 2015, is still just 11 miles down the road and could host the Yard Goats for the first week of baseball in April. The independent Atlantic League's New Britain Bees have moved into that ballpark, but they don't play there until their season opener two weeks later, on April 21.
For what it's worth, the Yard Goats' new city is also home to the University of Hartford, which hosts an NCAA Division I college baseball team at Fiondella Field. The Hawks, however, are scheduled to play at home April 9, 10, and 12, possibly conflicting with the Yard Goats' schedule.
As it stands now, Bronin, the city, and the team have but three months to figure out a budget solution and finish work on the stadium. We'll keep you updated with new developments as they become available.