It’s been a rough summer for the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League), but owner Josh Solomon says he expects his team to be playing in Hartford in two years — but maybe not as a Minnesota Twins affiliate.
Attendance is down at New Britain Stadium this season — something to be expected after a team announces a move — and it will be a few rough years on the financial front for the team. Though the move is not a major one (let’s face it: Hartford is a skip and a jump away from New Britain), it certainly was jarring for long-time Rock Cats fans. Still, the team has been in the headlines for perhaps the wrong reasons (the proposed move to Hartford that ran into immediate issues on the financial front; the team was late on a property-tax payment, leading New Britain officials to threaten eviction), and it’s now up to Solomon and crew to smooth over ruffled feathers. From the Bristol Press:
“Overall it’s been a good season in spite of the distractions,” Solomon said, referring to the team’s announcement in the middle of the year that it intends to move to Hartford for the 2016 season and a fight with Berlin over a tax issue. “The folks who work at the Rock Cats are the best in the business and have done an outstanding job in a difficult season. They’ve really stayed above the fray and focused on providing the best fan experience I think minor league baseball has to offer.”
While the stadium deal which was once trumpeted as a slam dunk is now being debated heavily in Hartford and the city is looking for private money to help pay for the $60 million building, Solomon says there has been “nothing out of the ordinary” which would make him doubt his team’s move will go through. He also, despite the objections of some in New Britain and Hartford about the stadium project, believes his fan base has come around on the idea.
“I’m hopeful,” he said. “I think our fans are excited about the opportunity to be in a brand new stadium in the capital city and our sponsors are excited about the ability to have a broader reach. I think it will be a positive experience.”
Another potential change for Rock Cats fans: the loss of a Minnesota Twins affiliation. A split has been rumored for a few weeks, ever since Twins GM Terry Ryan spent a few days visiting the Rock Cats in August without announcing a PDC extension.
RELATED STORIES: Rock Cats avoid eviction, pay property taxes; Two ballpark development projects make the cut in Hartford; Four Hartford ballpark developments submitted; New Britain plays hardball with Rock Cats over unpaid property taxes; 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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