Hartford mayor announces more funding for Yard Goats stadium; ta - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford mayor announces more funding for Yard Goats stadium; taxpayers to contribute

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Mayor Luke Bronin announced a funding plan he hopes will get the Yard Goats stadium back on track. (WFSB photo) Mayor Luke Bronin announced a funding plan he hopes will get the Yard Goats stadium back on track. (WFSB photo)
Mayor Luke Bronin announced a stadium funding agreement on Wednesday. (WFSB photo) Mayor Luke Bronin announced a stadium funding agreement on Wednesday. (WFSB photo)
Construction continues on Dunkin Donuts Park. (WFSB) Construction continues on Dunkin Donuts Park. (WFSB)

Hartford's mayor announced a funding agreement to bridge a $10 million budget gap and put the Yard Goats baseball stadium back on track.

Luke Bronin announced financial commitments at 11 a.m. at the Hartford City Hall Atrium on Main Street.

The new completion date for stadium construction is May 17 with opening day for the team set for May 31. The first 28 home games will be played on the road. The team is working on a solution for season ticket holders, but officials said they won't have to pay for any games they can't go to.

Under an agreement negotiated by Bronin, he said the city will receive $2 million from the Yard Goats franchise, as well as $2.3 million from stadium developer Downtown North and Centerplan Construction.

DoNo Hartford LLC will also pay about $225,000 per year in additional taxes on the development for the life of any bonds issued by the city or the Hartford Stadium Authority.

In addition, the city will no longer be responsible for paying approximately $500,000 to improve an indoor parking garage made available for the stadium.

As a result, Bronin said an additional $5.5 million in new stadium construction funding. DoNo Hartford LLC's tax payments will cover about $2 million of that debt. However, tax payers will be asked to support about a third of the total construction funding gap.

“No one wants to put more taxpayer money into this ballpark, but we have to play the hand we've been dealt," Bronin said. “Our responsibility is to get the project back on track and avoid further delays that could result in additional costs to taxpayers and compromise the broader development at Downtown North.  The deal we are announcing [Wednesday] represents our best effort to protect both the short- and long-term interests of Hartford's taxpayers."

Eyewitness News learned earlier this month that the Dunkin' Donuts Park for the Yard Goats would not be ready for the team's inaugural opening day in the spring, partly because of add-ons, like a mechanical cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee that would emit steam after every home run.

After ground was broken last February, the stadium was slated to open in April 2016.

However, Kevin Greene, a construction manager for the city, said earlier this year that completion for that date was a low probability.

The project was said to be weeks behind schedule and $10.3 million over budget.

The Downtown North and Centerplan Construction developers claim that the team and the city made expensive changes to the design.

The stadium is being built in the downtown north section of the city.

Until Wednesday's agreement was announced, officials said games would be played on the road.

Officials previously estimated that the stadium would be ready by June.

Bronin said a town hall meeting would be set for Jan. 25 to discuss the agreement with Hartford residents. It's set for 5 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library.

“Let me be clear: no one is waving a 'mission accomplished' banner today," Bronin said. "There is much work to be done, not only to complete the ballpark but to ensure that the rest of the downtown north development proceeds as promised.  I am thankful that both the team and the developer contributed to a solution, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that the project proceeds on the revised schedule.” 

DoNo Hartford LLC released a statement about the agreement shortly after Bronin's announcement.

DoNo Hartford LLC and Centerplan Companies are pleased to announce that a resolution has been reached that keeps the construction of Hartford’s minor league baseball stadium on track. Centerplan applauds the leadership of Mayor Luke Bronin for taking swift action to convene key stakeholders, and for devoting the necessary attention that assures the interests of taxpayers are met, protects the success of the Stadium, and sets a path for the progress of future projects.

The Yard Goats are expected to make an announcement about the agreement later in the day.

The franchise is the former New Britain Rock Cats team, a move that the city of Hartford claimed was made to prevent the team from moving out of the state.

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