It’s been a while since we checked in on the Hartford Yard Goats, the new minor-league team that’s starting the season on a two-month-long road trip because the developer of their $63 million publicly funded stadium couldn’t finish it in time for opening day. And that road trip could get even longer, because now both the league president and the construction contractor say the stadium may not even be ready by the rescheduled May 31 opening:
At the final Hartford Stadium Authority meeting before the developer is scheduled to deliver the stadium to the team, city development director Sean Fitzpatrick said he was “skeptical” the stadium developer would meet the May 17 deadline.
“We have grave concerns at this point,” he said…
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Luke Bronin asked an official for the company overseeing the project for Hartford if he believed the developer needed two weeks beyond May 17 to get to “substantial completion.”
The official, Kevin Greene, executive vice president of International Facilities Group, replied “yes.”
The bad news is … well, pretty obvious: It looks like the Yard Goats either won’t be able to start their home season on May 31, or will be doing so in a half-finished stadium. The better news is that if that happens, the bailout deal worked out in January means that the city can replace the current developers, DoNo Hartford and Centerplan, and charge damages of $50,000 for the first day and $15,000 per day thereafter; the team, meanwhile, can get out from having to contribute $2 million toward construction cost overruns or this year’s $500,000 in rent.
This is likely to come down to a determination whether the stadium is “substantially complete” by May 17, as stipulated in the contract, which, jeez, people, who the hell puts vague language like that into important legal documents? Either way, the relocation of the Yard Goats from nearby New Britain is turning into a bigger fiasco day by day, though you know that all will be forgiven once there’s a shiny new ballpark to watch baseball in, at least for a few years until it’s not so shiny anymore and people realize it’s the same old Double-A team they used to watch ten minutes away, only now with a goat on the cap.