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Hartford Stadium Authority Cancels Contract with Developer

Dunkin' Donuts Park

The Hartford Stadium Authority has terminated its contract with the developer of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, marking a decisive step in a new direction for the Hartford Yard Goats’ (Class AA; Eastern League) beleaguered new home.

On the heels of an email from Centerplan Cos. and DoNo LLC on Friday that stated that it would take at least another 60 days for the ballpark to be ready for occupancy, the stadium authority opted to terminate the contract. In his announcement, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin cited the city’s dissatisfaction with the development of the project.

Tensions between the city and the developer have mounted over the last few weeks, particularly after the developer missed the May 17 occupancy deadline for the ballpark, which would have allowed the Yard Goats to open in Hartford on May 31. Jason Rudnick, the president of Centerplan and principal with DoNo LLC, said that the city shares in the blame by, among other things, making too many design changes. For his part, Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon was supportive of the authority’s decision. More from the Hartford Courant:

Josh Solomon, owner of the Yard Goats, said the team is “incredibly disappointed” by what he described as a pattern of broken promises and a lack of professionalism and execution by Centerplan.

“But I’ll reiterate: We are going to be in Hartford for 25 years and we will not accept anything less than the ballpark that was promised to us, whether it has to get delivered by Centerplan or the insurance company,” Solomon said. “The city is owed that, and we stand with the city to make sure that promise gets delivered.”

Solomon said the team will stick with Hartford “through the tough times” and emphasized, “We are going to be the spark that drives that area.”

In the aftermath of this decision, a few issues loom over the ballpark and the project it is to support. Centerplan and DoNO LLC was also expected to oversee Downtown North, a mixed-use development that includes retail, residences, and dining. Bronin said that the decision of whether the developer will work on this component of the plan will be made by him and the city council.

There are also a few factors that could determine when the Yard Goats move into the ballpark. At the end of May, the Stadium Authority voted to call on an insurance bond from Arch Insurance for the completion of the project, which signaled the possibility that Dunkin’ Donuts Park would not open until 2017.

Furthermore, the Eastern League has yet to make any announcements about the Yard Goats’ remaining schedule. The last update called for the team to play two home series this month at Norwich’s Dodd Stadium, and a third at Reading’s FirstEnergy Field.

Given the parameters set at that time, the earliest the Yard Goats would have opened Dunkin’ Donuts Park was June 21. At this point, it is hard to tell when, if at all, the Yard Goats will finally play at home in 2016.

Image of Dunkin’ Donuts Park from May 2 courtesy Hartford Yard Goats.

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