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Backlash emerging against new Hartford ballpark

New Hartford ballpark

Any large public expenditure inevitably attracts opponents, and that’s happening in Hartford, where there’s some opposition forming against a new $60-million downtown ballpark for the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League).

It’s hard to say how widespread any opposition is: a council member initially behind the project is now saying the city needs to seek some private investment to make the project work, and a local politician says the ballpark site would be better used for a grocery store. The potential developer of the grocery store agreed and said plans for a ShopRite next door to the porposed ballpark are on hold. (Making this an either-or proposition when there’s a lot of open land in the Downtown North area may be a good play for electioneering, not so good from an economic-development viewpoint, and lest we forget, the potential developers of the grocery store were also seeking a public subsidy.) Throw in the general distrust of government in the city, and there are folks speaking out against the project; a dozen came out against the project at the last public hearing.

Which is good. Any large public project should be carefully scrutinized, and part of that scrutiny will come Wednesday during a public discussion of the plan. From the Hartford Courant:

Mayor Pedro Segarra, Director of Development Services Thomas Deller and other city officials will present the latest information on the stadium project during a meeting at the city’s public library.

A spokeswoman for Segarra said the conversation will focus on the ballpark, but it also will include plans for development in Hartford’s “Downtown North” area, such as updates on a proposal to build a supermarket there….

City leaders also are expected to provide information about minor league ballpark projects in other cities and towns. They are working to get updated renderings on what the ballpark would look like just north of Hartford’s downtown, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.

The 10,000-capacity, $60-million ballpark is planned for 1214 Main Street and financed via city-issued bonds, though the funding mix may change if state and private funds are indentified. We’re currently looking at a 2016 opening, as the team’s lease at New Britain Stadium ends at the end of 2015.

RELATED STORIES: Hartford: New ballpark already attracting development; Why are Rock Cats moving to Hartford? Follow the money; Hartford ballpark plan: 10,000 capacity, $60M price tag; Rock Cats negotiating move to Hartford: report


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