One of the biggest complaints coming out of the pending deal by the Rock Cats and the City of Hartford is that key “stakeholders” were not let in on the talks nor intentions of the team’s ownership to vacate New Britain Stadium in 2016 for the proposed I-84 linked Parcel 12B in downtown Hartford.
Neither New Britain’s Mayor Stewart nor State Senator Eric Coleman nor even the team’s big corporate sponsor, The Stanley Works, among others, were consulted or given as much as a courtesy call.
Well move over Erin and Eric. As it turns out local officials and sponsors were not the only ones left out of the loop. The ownership group led by Boston real estate mogul Josh Solomon didn’t even bother to inform the big club in Minnesota.
A news blog out of Minneapolis reports that the MLB Twins of which the Rock Cats are a Double A affiliate in the Eastern League were also blindsided by the New Britain to Hartford project. And we’re not talking about the busway here.
“The Twins were not consulted about the plans of their Class AA affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats, to move into a $60 million stadium in Hartford, Conn., for the 2016 season, a deal announced in the state’s capital Wednesday. But Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said the Twins understand why owner Josh Solomon is making the move, and will likely support him,” wrote Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on June 5th
Hartford city officials are giving the Rock Cats owners a pass about their insistence on cloak and dagger negotiations. Hartford’s Development Director told Connecticut Public Radio that development proposals, if they are to come to fruition, need to be under wraps before moving into the public domain.
So much for planning the use of taxpayer money with transparency. And the Twins — a long way away from New Britain anyway — are excusing the Solomons for their pursuit of a new park in secrecy.
The Rock Cats owners, however, may be in for a rude awakening now that the $60 million plan is subject to oversight and the full involvement of stakeholders in the process.
They want to walk away from New Britain’s sweetheart deal of a $120,000 or so annual lease because they want even more public subsidies from their current local government.
They see dollar signs and corporate sky boxes at their proposed band box of a publically financed park in downtown Hartford. But if it can’t be built, if the project won’t survive a legitimate public vetting, they — the fans and corporate sponsors –will not come.
Mr. Solomon may think he has a back up in Springfield but there are no guarantees there.
In the end the Rock Cats owners may have to come crawling back to hard hittin’ New Britain just for a place to play two years hence. If that occurs let’s negotiate the deal in the open with the involvement of all stakeholders.