Baseball

The Yard Goats are a Farm Team Without a Farm

The centerpiece of Hartford's $400 million development misses another deadline.

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The opening of Dunkin' Donuts Park is delayed again.

Hartford, Connecticut's new minor league ballpark was supposed to be "substantially complete" yesterday, but city officials confirm that Dunkin' Donuts Park isn't ready and developers have missed the deadline. The failure means more delays for an already delayed ballpark and potentially big fines for the stadium developers.

It's the latest setback for the taxpayer-subsidized, $63-million stadium which was profiled by Reason TV in April. Cost overruns and construction delays have already caused the eventual home of the Yard Goats, the double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, to miss opening day. Now the team will miss at least 40 percent of its home games this season, including what was supposed to be a delayed home opener on May 31st.

To outward appearances, the ballpark appears to be on track. WNPR's photos show a stadium in the late innings of construction. It's the interior that's not ready. Concession stands, the team store, bathrooms, and locker rooms are all unfinished. "There's a lot of work to do," they conclude.

It's not clear what will happen next, though accountability is part of the deal. The Hartford Courant reports that Mayor Luke Bronin "will be getting all parties together" – likely the team owner and developers – to protect taxpayers while moving the stadium forward. According to a prior agreement, the developers could be fined $50,000 the first day and $15,000 every day after until the ballpark is finished.

Until that happens, the Hartford Yard Goats will continue to play their home games at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, a 45-minute drive away.

How this latest delay affects the bigger picture – the $400 million in hoped-for development, which will be needed to make the ballpark financially viable  – remains to be seen. Watch Another Troubled City, Another Subsidized Stadium to the Rescue for an insider's look at how cities get caught up in the difficult business of sports stadiums.

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