Hartford mayor proposes $5.5m city bailout of Yard Goats stadium overruns

The stadium budget fiasco that is forcing the Hartford Yard Goats double-A baseball team to spend the first month of their inaugural season on an epic road trip has been tentatively resolved. As you probably expected, it did not end well for taxpayers:

The city of Hartford will finance $5.5 million of the $10 million shortfall to complete the new Yard Goats stadium after reaching a deal and he said the stadium is now scheduled to be completed by May 17…

According to the deal, DoNo Hartford LLC would be responsible for $2.3 million, the city would fund $5.5 million and the Yard Goats would fund $2 million. The deal also requires DoNo to pay $225,000 in extra taxes annually over the life of the bonds.

For those scoring at home, DoNo is the developer that promised to build the stadium, which the city is funding to lure the Yard Goats away from New Britain, which is pretty much the next town over. (Newington residents, I don’t want to hear about it.) An extra $225,000 a year in taxes over 25 years of bonds is present value of … I get about $3 million, but the Hartford Courant says $2 million, so okay. The upshot here, then, is the team is kicking in $2 million, the developer who messed everything up is putting in $4.3 million, and the city is putting in $3.5 million plus a $2 million loan to the developer that will be repaid over 25 years.

That’s pretty awful for a city that’s already on the hook for $56 million, but Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin defending throwing good money after bad on the grounds that in for a penny, in for a pound:

Bronin said no one wanted to put more money into this project, but the city of Hartford needs the project to succeed. It would be “on the hook for far, far more” if it was not able to come to an agreement to get the project back on track, he said.

The city would still be responsible for paying the debt service on nearly $60 million of debt for the next 25 years and there would be no revenue coming in to support it.

That sort of makes sense, except that the only revenue Hartford is getting out of the deal is $500,000 a year in annual rent payments. So at worst if the city had refused to bargain, it would be out half a million dollars if the team had to play the entire season on the road — while the Yard Goats owners would be losing out on an entire season of gate receipts, and DoNo would be responsible for damages of $15,000 a day. It sure seems like the city has bailed out both the team owners and the developer despite holding all the cards — or at least, is being asked to bail them out, as the city council still needs to vote on all of this. Please let them have some better legal and financial advice this time around.

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8 comments on “Hartford mayor proposes $5.5m city bailout of Yard Goats stadium overruns

  1. It is a shame that Hartford didn’t force the firm to use the name “NoDo” in its future marketing materials.

  2. For their $5.5 million, at least the Hartford politicians should get the franchise to name the team after them. The Hartford Jackasses.

  3. It’s true: the Hartford publically-financed baseball stadium was a “done deal” when introduced by ex-mayor, and today still isn’t — till voted upon soon by Council. Viable? ‘Sunk cost’? Current developer worthy of additional future downtown control? Comments welcome. — L. Deutsch, City Council

  4. One thing that immediately occurs: Do we know anything about DoNo Hartford LLC as a company?

    Does it have other (ongoing) business or projects? Or is it (for example) a (standalone or subsidiary) company formed to complete this one project alone?

    If the latter, I wouldn’t count on being paid back any of that $2M loan…

  5. John…looks like the latter, but maybe with a little more skin in the game. http://www.freemancos.com/experience/dono-downtown-north

  6. Thanks GDub. Interesting.

    I guess the thing that confuses me is that the amount of money being borrowed is relatively small, even by this development’s modest standards. Always a little nervous when somebody apparently needs a small loan on a big project and can’t get one commercially (or perhaps just doesn’t want to?)

  7. No surprise that the pol’s give in to the “developers” to save face and screw taxpayers. With this precedent set there will lots more of these giveaways in
    the future for those paying the freight in this truly minor league burg.
    Happiness is seeing central Conn. in your rear view mirror…

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