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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Yard Goats Facing Season On The Road

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Hartford Yard Goats this season. Now, the team’s scenario is careering rapidly toward the worst case.

Hartford mayor Luke Bronin at a Monday press conference on Monday announced that the stadium’s developers, DoNo Hartford and Centerplan Cos., were being removed from the long-delayed project.

The announcement came after the developer took issue with the team’s release of the still-unfinished items at Dunkin Donuts Park, which was last scheduled to be turned over to the Yard Goats on May 17 in preparation for a May 31 opener.

At Monday’s news conference, according to the Hartford Courant, Bronin revealed that the impetus for the decision involved an e-mail from the developers notifying him that the remaining work would take at least 60 days to complete.

Also at issue, Bronin said, was the concern from the developers that they might not have the funds to complete the project without requesting more money from the city. The stadium was already slated to cost the city $47,050,000.

The Rockies AA affiliate in Hartford is in danger of not having a stadium this season, and playing only road games.

Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2016 at 11:24 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, rockies

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2016 at 12:16 PM (#5238090)
My apologies for the bad formatting on the intro - but if you've tried to submit an article here, you know how that goes.

   2. dave h Posted: June 07, 2016 at 01:38 PM (#5238176)
What a mess, and probably a predictable one. From a selfish perspective, I was sad to see the team leave New Britain (which is a much easier evening trip than Hartford, coming from New Haven). Seeing Hartford continue to screw up and get screwed over doesn't help though. Teams shouldn't bend over backwards to recruit major league sports franchises. The idea of pumping so much money into minor league baseball is ludicrous.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 07, 2016 at 01:40 PM (#5238182)
The Yardless Goats, it would appear.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2016 at 01:44 PM (#5238189)
It seems crazy to me that the stadium wasn't even scheduled to be finished until after the season started. Hartford's season started on April 7, and apparently the best-case scenario was that the first game wouldn't be played in Hartford until May 31.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2016 at 01:57 PM (#5238221)
I think Biloxi had the same issue last year, but they got it finished by May. I don't know why teams cut it so close.
   6. Dolf Lucky Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:15 PM (#5238260)
The idea of pumping so much money into minor league baseball is ludicrous.


Just so. Doubly true when the courting city has no money, no existing ballpark, and resembles a ghost town past 5 pm and on weekends. What a mess. Once complete, Hartford will have a state of the art minor league stadium, perpetually under attended.
   7. Lassus Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:18 PM (#5238263)
Utica is available.

No, really, it is.
   8. Russ Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:21 PM (#5238268)
I think Biloxi had the same issue last year, but they got it finished by May. I don't know why teams cut it so close.


Are you sure it's the teams? My guess is that a lot of it is due to the developers being overbooked and running like chickens with their heads cut off from job to job until the music stops and they realize that they can't finish a big project by the deadline.
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:22 PM (#5238270)
<Nelson_Muntz>

Ha Ha!

</Nelson_Muntz>
   10. villageidiom Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:31 PM (#5238283)
My apologies for the bad formatting on the intro - but if you've tried to submit an article here, you know how that goes.
Reformatted. I hope that helps.

It seems crazy to me that the stadium wasn't even scheduled to be finished until after the season started. Hartford's season started on April 7, and apparently the best-case scenario was that the first game wouldn't be played in Hartford until May 31.

The developers originally claimed it would be done by opening day. Then in January they claimed that it couldn't open by then, unless of course the city ponied up more money. In my social circles this was assumed as a shakedown attempt, and apparently the city felt the same because they accepted the delay to 5/31.

The developers have used the last-minute redesign of the right field wall as something that increased cost and caused delays... But that redesign involves raising a net. That's not a 60-day impact.

I drive by this place every day, and progress over the last couple months has seemed slow. I assumed it was because they're working more on the inside than the outside now, but maybe not.
   11. villageidiom Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:52 PM (#5238303)
Just so. Doubly true when the courting city has no money, no existing ballpark, and resembles a ghost town past 5 pm and on weekends. What a mess. Once complete, Hartford will have a state of the art minor league stadium, perpetually under attended.
The downtown area is usually pretty busy when UConn has a basketball game there, and in the days of the Whalers would also have a lot of (positive) activity. Public transit has always been a non-entity that time of day, but otherwise people do go to stuff downtown.

The ghost-town aspect of Hartford is more that there's no activity outside of such an event. After Constitution Plaza was built in the 1980s residential areas and business areas were not well intermingled, so there's simply no reason for people to be in the downtown area unless there is an event. They've tried to build housing units downtown, but it's all upscale - and I'll tell ya, upscale housing folks aren't walking around downtown Hartford in their spare time.

But I think this is overblown. There are parts of NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, and SF I've been in on a weekend where there's absolutely nothing going on and nobody around. For a smaller city like Hartford where the business area is the bulk of downtown the ghost-town effect will seem more pervasive. But I've been in Hartford on nights and weekends, and it's plenty active in the areas of Front Street and Franklin Ave. And the one place the upscale residents are going is Bushnell Park, so that has a lot more non-hobo activity going on than it used to have.
   12. Dolf Lucky Posted: June 07, 2016 at 03:33 PM (#5238343)
The downtown area is usually pretty busy when UConn has a basketball game there, and in the days of the Whalers would also have a lot of (positive) activity. Public transit has always been a non-entity that time of day, but otherwise people do go to stuff downtown.


Sure, but UConn basketball and NHL hockey is not quite the same as AA baseball. The idea that the Yard Goats will reverse a 30 year trend strikes me as...unlikely.

I assume you've been to Providence at some point? It provides a jarring contrast to what Hartford could look like (in a positive sense). The first time I went, I was astonished to see a small (Hartford-sized) city with actual people walking around.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2016 at 03:33 PM (#5238344)
Reformatted. I hope that helps.


Thank you.
   14. villageidiom Posted: June 07, 2016 at 07:04 PM (#5238540)
I assume you've been to Providence at some point? It provides a jarring contrast to what Hartford could look like (in a positive sense). The first time I went, I was astonished to see a small (Hartford-sized) city with actual people walking around.
Yes, I've been. Front Street in Hartford is like that these days. On a nice summer day with a random band playing at Riverfront Park you get a corridor of people out & about from the Founders Bridge down to the Convention Center, then up Front Street (then down to Arch St because of ongoing construction), then across to Bushnell Park. I used to be in that area on the weekends - studying for actuarial exams while at Travelers - and it made a graveyard seem lively. It was conducive to nothing, except studying for actuarial exams.

It was really the Front Street development that got things going. With riverfront recapture, plus the science center, plus the convention center, you had islands of activity with nowhere to go otherwise. People came in, they went to their destination, they went home. Now they have places to eat and drink, and some other entertainment venues, and suddenly they could actually make a full day of it. Front Street is a "connect the dots" kind of thing Hartford desperately needed, because the 1980s development boom ended up zoning the city by function and killed off downtown activity outside white-collar hours. We've taken the kids there a few times when we wanted to see a movie but also get some damn good barbecue from a guy who learned the trade at Jack Stack.

The stadium is not in the aforementioned corridor - you have to go up Main Street and cross over the highway - but it's not that far away, and at least Main Street has some bars and restaurants in proximity. To me it's not so much whether a AA ballpark revitalizes Hartford, because it won't. But it's another option, and options are what Hartford needs (and, frankly, lacked 20 years ago).
   15. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: June 07, 2016 at 07:49 PM (#5238558)
Utica is available.

So is New Haven, for that matter.
   16. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 07, 2016 at 08:54 PM (#5238603)
DoNo Hartford
What person thought that was a good choice of name?
   17. Dolf Lucky Posted: June 07, 2016 at 09:43 PM (#5238647)
Yes, I've been. Front Street in Hartford is like that these days.


Well, I'm intrigued. I work in Windsor (so I know all about Bear's), and I live in the Farmington valley, so I avoid Hartford almost by rule. I'll check it out.

Incidentally, if you are an actuary at Travelers, we almost certainly have very few degrees of separation.
   18. villageidiom Posted: June 07, 2016 at 09:51 PM (#5238654)
I haven't been at Travelers for well over a decade. But your statement is likely true just the same.

Mmmmm, Bear's. Going there for lunch this week, in fact. It's the kind of place you have to get to before 11:30 so you can beat all the people who are trying to beat the lunch rush. By 11:45 the line goes to the door.

   19. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: June 07, 2016 at 10:51 PM (#5238690)
Sure, but UConn basketball and NHL hockey is not quite the same as AA baseball. The idea that the Yard Goats will reverse a 30 year trend strikes me as...unlikely.

Lancaster, PA and York, PA have independent baseball, and it brings a lot of people downtown. Having dozens of home games makes it better than other minor league sports. Especially since it's in the summer in a place that's usually cold.
   20. stevegamer Posted: June 08, 2016 at 12:58 AM (#5238744)
Lancaster is also a family tourist destination, but the ballpark does get some of the tourists to check out a game. The ballpark is quite nice, and I highly recommend the BBQ meal deal.
   21. McCoy Posted: June 08, 2016 at 07:45 AM (#5238768)
From what I recall from a guy in the Wisconsin construction business. A lot of companies will bid on and take on as many government contracts as they can and they'll start them as soon as they can because it is in the contract and then they'll just stop working on certain sites as they work through their contracts. In Wisconsin you'd have what you'd think was a simple weekend to 1 week job that would take 3 months to complete. It would drive you nuts all the congestion and detours it would cause.
   22. McCoy Posted: June 08, 2016 at 07:46 AM (#5238769)
The only minor league team I've seen is the Reading Phillies. It was nice enough but I was damn sure making that drive more than once.
   23. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: June 08, 2016 at 11:36 AM (#5238987)
It must really suck to be a Hartford pro sports fan. First, the Whalers. Then, the soccer team folds without playing a game (although I scored a cool T-shirt for pennies on the dollar), and now a baseball team with a stupid name in an unfinished ballpark. (And that's not even counting the team in the fly-by-night UFL.)
   24. villageidiom Posted: June 08, 2016 at 01:49 PM (#5239109)
It must really suck to be a Hartford pro sports fan. First, the Whalers. Then, the soccer team folds without playing a game (although I scored a cool T-shirt for pennies on the dollar), and now a baseball team with a stupid name in an unfinished ballpark. (And that's not even counting the team in the fly-by-night UFL.)
First, I don't know anyone who boxes themselves in as a "pro sports fan" as opposed to a "sports fan". Fandom is inherently arbitrary I know, but to be a fan of many sports but only when played in professional categories seems very uncommon. I'm sure it does suck for those nonexistent people. For the vast majority who are fans of college basketball, 15 national championships in 21 years does not suck at all.

Second, Hartford is within 120 miles or so of 13 professional teams in the big 4 sports (3 NBA, 4 NHL, 3 NFL, and 3 MLB). New Orleans and Salt Lake City have similar MSA populations to Hartford, and they are within 120 miles of 3 such teams, combined. Granted they are within 0 miles of those 3 teams, but my point is that a reasonable "local" radius around Hartford includes far more pro sports teams than people usually consider. There are fans of all those teams around here. OK, maybe not Knicks fans. But still.

Third, if it sucks to have a pro sports team with a stupid name, then it sucks for every sports fan everywhere.
   25. McCoy Posted: June 08, 2016 at 02:08 PM (#5239137)
120 miles sounds like a stretch. Would love to see the data on how many people 120 miles away go to games.
   26. Jay Seaver Posted: June 08, 2016 at 03:25 PM (#5239246)
120 miles is also, I suspect, perceived differently in Hartford than New Orleans or Salt Lake City. I had a roommate from the midwest when I was younger, an mentioned that my folks being 100 miles away meant that they could come if necessary but wouldn't be dropping in, and she pointed out that driving a couple hours to get somewhere was not so big a thing outside New England.
   27. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 08, 2016 at 03:35 PM (#5239255)
I'm sure I would have thought differently in my 20s, but having to drive 120 miles to get home after an evening baseball game that ends at 10:30 or 11 p.m. seems pretty unpleasant. I could see doing it for an afternoon game.
   28. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 08, 2016 at 04:27 PM (#5239327)
I'm sure I would have thought differently in my 20s, but having to drive 120 miles to get home after an evening baseball game that ends at 10:30 or 11 p.m. seems pretty unpleasant. I could see doing it for an afternoon game.

Except for young, single guys in their 20s, most folks driving 120 miles to take in a MLB game are going to stay overnight and probably take in multiple games of a series. At least that's how I'd do it.

Even the drive from Northern Virginia to Camden Yards (50 miles, about 90 minutes with the usual traffic) was a bit of a chore, and the availability of virtually all the Yankee games on a large screen HDTV via Extra Innings, as well as the Nationals right on a METRO stop, made such trips a thing of the past.
   29. villageidiom Posted: June 08, 2016 at 04:58 PM (#5239351)
Without even thinking too hard I know of at least a half-dozen families that go up to Fenway from Hartford (100 miles) at least once a month. In most cases it'd be a weekend afternoon trip, so even if it's a 4 pm start and it goes 5 hours (y'know those Sox/Yanks games a decade ago) you're done at 9 and home by 11. Hell, I had a weekend season ticket plan for 15 years or so.

I also know a few people who go to Yankee Stadium from here a couple times a year, and one family that goes to Citi about as often.

But the key thing is that within 120 miles you're getting all these teams on TV and (to the extent they're covered) radio. Any week in season you're guaranteed to get at least 2 of the NFL games, maybe 3; any night you can get all 3 MLB teams; you can get all 3 NBA teams; and you can get a couple of the NHL teams, maybe more. (Who carries the Islanders and Devils? I wouldn't know.) At the average sports bar you can see pretty much any of them you want, and have a rooting contingent to hang out with.

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