After years of planning, construction delays and legal wrangling, the new home of the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) is opening tonight, and it will be interesting to see how locals react to Dunkin’ Donuts Park being a reality.
Our Zach Spedden will at the opener tonight, and there’s been a lot of local coverage as well. No surprise: the construction of the new ballpark was a multi-year odyssey filled with intrigue and drama. And we’re guessing there are still some folks questioning if it will actually open tonight.
The bigger issue, however, is how the locals will accept the new ballpark, an issue that the Hartford Courant’s Dan Haar attempts to answer. He talked to some locals who had bad feelings about how the ballpark was funded and developed and questioned why city leaders had made baseball a priority over other pressing city needs. Fair enough: city leaders did a pretty crappy job at getting this ballpark funded and built. And Haar makes a great point: the ballpark is there and the team is playing, so it does little good to boycott either:
The point was not to spark development in the long-abandoned lots between downtown and the North End in the hope of generating tax revenue. That was just one step toward the real goal.
The real point was to make Hartford — the city and the metro area around it — a place where people want to be. That and that alone is what matters in 21st century American economic development.
A ballpark can help if we see it as a thing unto itself, not as Helen of Troy, the constant subject of battle.
Worth noting: this is the only new ballpark in Minor League Baseball in 2017.
Image from college exhibition at Dunkin’ Donuts Park courtesy Hartford Yard Goats.
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