There is no end in sight for the Hartford Yard Goats' impossibly long road trip
City of Hartford officials announced Tuesday that construction on Dunkin Donuts Park had not satisfactorily proceeded past the point of "substantial completion," meaning the stadium is not ready to hand over to the owners. Tuesday's announcement means that the Rockies' Double-A affiliate will likely not be able to play in their long awaited home opener on Monday, May 31 as planned.
Mayor Luke Broninn told reporters outside his office that the developers have missed Tuesday's deadline and also were not on track to meet a heretofore unknown "grace period" which ends May 24. "We will be getting all the parties together and assessing our options," Bronin said.
Back in January the developers, DoNo Hartford LLC and Centerplan Cos., made a contract with the city of Hartford and with the Yard Goats in response to construction delays over the new stadium. Under this agreement, the developers could face a fine of $50,000 for not having the stadium "substantially completed" by May 17. The city also could throw the developers off the project or continued fines of $15,000 per day the project wasn't completed. Also part of the January agreement, Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon agreed to pay $2 million worth of overruns. Now that the developers have not made today's deadline he is now under no obligation to make that payment.
Under this agreement, Hartford officials may now pull the performance bond (a construction industry term for putting in a claim with the insurer of the ballpark) to finance the rest of the stadium's construction. From the Hartford Courant earlier this week:
Solomon is adamant that come Wednesday, if the $63 million ballpark hasn't been handed over, the city should pursue the performance bond to get the money to finish the job.
Solomon noted that several of the milestones that were put into place in the agreement were missed by the developer leading up to this week and said he feels the developer was not held accountable.
"If the developer once again misses the deadline, there are safeguards so the city can recoup the money," he said. "The city has a full payment and performance bond for a reason."
There is a lot of money--much of it taxpayer money--involved in this situation. When it comes to the games on the field, no announcement has been made as to where the Yard Goats will play their scheduled home games until the stadium is done. There is speculation that the team will continue to play in Norwich, 40 miles southeast of Hartford and home to the Short Season-A ball Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League.