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New Britain plays hardball with Rock Cats over unpaid property taxes

New Britain Rock CatsNew Britain (CT) Mayor Erin Stewart has drawn a line in the sand for the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League): pay past-due property taxes on New Britain Stadium or face eviction at the end of the season.

Earlier this year the city of Hartford and the Rock Cats announced plans for a new $60-million downtown ballpark, with New Britain officials stung by the move after not being notified of a potential move or a chance to match it. Those bad feelings are certainly exhibited by Stewart and other city officials. From the Hartford Courant:

In a blistering statement, she warned that she’s not going to let city taxpayers get stuck with the nearly $165,000 bill.

“I am deeply disturbed by the pattern of utter disrespect that this ownership group has shown to their home city over the past few months,” Stewart wrote.

“In June, they went public with their dalliance with Hartford, which hasn’t turned out to be quite the ‘done deal’ that some made it out to be,” she continued. “Since then, they have continued their radio silence with New Britain. Now, they are stiffing the taxpayers of Berlin and New Britain on their tax bill.”

The property taxes are complicated. Technically, the ballpark is located both in New Britain and the town of Berlin. Berlin is actually the taxing authority, and New Britain pays property taxes on the ballpark to Berlin, which must be repaid by the Rock Cats per the team’s lease.

It’s been a rough patch for the Rock Cats since the new ballpark was announced. After assuring folks it was a done deal, Hartford officials pulled $60 million in public spending off the table and announced it would seek a developer to fund the project. While the city said several developers had expressed interest, the move was widely seen as a significant lack of support for a new ballpark, and burning bridges in New Britain may not be the best course of action for the Rock Cats front office.

The team’s lease at New Britain Stadium runs through the 2015 season.

RELATED STORIES: Hartford pulls public bonding for new Rock Cats ballpark; Backlash emerging against new Hartford ballpark; 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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