Yard Goats’ eternal road trip may get longer, as stadium still not ready

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.

8 comments on “Yard Goats’ eternal road trip may get longer, as stadium still not ready

  1. Actually I’m pretty sure “Substantially complete” is a precise technical term with a specific definition.

    IIRC, it’s something to do with adequate emergency exits and other safety features being able to handle crowds.

  2. From the picture, it looks like all of the grandstand structure is complete. So it probably is just interior work that remains for the grandstand and press box. The field lighting is up, which will give them time for burning the lights in.

    The long pole appears to be in the outfield. Normally by a two weeks before opening, the scoreboard is up and being tested. It looks like the structural elements for the scoreboard aren’t finished yet. Did someone forget to order a scoreboard?

    The bleachers look like supports, handrails and seats still need to be installed. Can’t figure out where the bullpens are located.

    Based on the one picture I’d say they are at least a month away from when the picture was taken.


  3. They still have to put in elevators, for one thing. That’s a pretty big deal.

    And if you read the linked story, you’ll see that “substantially complete” remains an item of contention.

  4. A check of the WSFB 3 story has a quote from the developer that there won’t be a delay, followed by him saying that if there is a delay it will only be a few days. Towards the end, there is another quote about the delay being only a few weeks.

    Very funny changes in the story as the article goes on.

  5. Actually, the owner’s rep, Kevin Green of IFG, said there were about 50 items on the “punch list” that were still outstanding. Construction crews –about 400 workers every day–have been working 7 days a week for 20 hours a day. But Greene said they waited too long (after the new drop-dead date was set in January) to step up the pace.

  6. Even worse, Hartford has a team about an hour away. Springfield isn’t big enough to support a team to the AHL’s current expectations.

    Looks like the Springfield owner did pretty well selling the Falcons to move out west.

  7. So, the first Yard Goats “home games” will be in Norwich. At least it’s still in Connecticut and it’s nice this time of year in Norwich.

    Complimentary tickets are being provided to the Yard Goats season ticket holders as they play, at least, three series in Norwich. The entertaining one would be against the Rubber Duckies of Akron.

    I assume any losses will be made up for with what the Yard Goats owner doesn’t have to pay now. It would be very entertaining if the construction company now claims that they were substantially complete on time but the Yard Goats changed the games too soon.

    And, the move had nothing to do with the Zika virus…


  8. Looks like current Rock Cats ownership let greed get the better of them by abandoning New Britain. It’s Karma.