Initially, it seemed that Monday’s decision by the Hartford Stadium Authority to cancel its contract with the developer of Dunkin’ Donuts Park marked a breaking point in the project. However, more turmoil ensued on Tuesday, when subcontractors continued to work on the future home of the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League), prompting a standoff between city officials and developer Centerplan Cos. and DoNo, LLC over the correct protocol.
Dan Haar of the Hartford Courant captured the moment during a tense day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park:
Three workers from different subcontractors told me they were ordered to stay the course, either by Centerplan, by their bosses or both. “We’re basically honoring our contract,” a job foreman said.
“We’re all gentlemen or gentlewomen,” said I. Charles Mathews, chairman of the Hartford Stadium Authority. “Hopefully they will tidy things up and they will pack up and they will leave.”
As he spoke, a city official walked around the stadium telling crews to do just that. Hearing this, an angry Centerplan supervisor followed. He approached a tile contractor in a partially finished men’s bathroom.
“The city should not be telling you not to work. You work for me,” the construction manager said.
As DoNo manager Jason Rudnick saw it, there was no plan to shut down the site — a complex activity — so the subcontractors had no reason to leave. Only when they received a letter from the city’s lawyers saying the site would be padlocked at 5 p.m. did they agree to vacate the site, and the question of how to do an orderly shutdown remained up in the air Tuesday night.
This followed Monday’s decision by the Stadium Authority to cancel its deal with the developer. Tension had been mounting between the two sides over the last few weeks, but it became more evident in the aftermath of that decision, as city officials claimed that poor performance by the developer justified the voiding of the deal, while Jason Rudnick alleged that the city caused the delays by insisting on too many design changes.
One major factor that is still looming over the completion of Dunkin’ Donuts Park is the city’s request for a performance bond from Arch Insurance. That matter is still pending.
In the meantime, the Eastern League has announced further changes to the Yard Goats’ schedule. The team’s remaining home series in June have been moved, with a three-game set against the Richmond Flying Squirrels relocated to Manchester, NH’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Meanwhile, the June 24-26 slate against the Erie Seawolves will be played at Norwich’s Dodd Stadium. That has resulted in a corresponding schedule change, with the two teams scheduled for an off day on the 24th before playing a doubleheader the following day.
At this point, it is getting harder to imagine that the Yard Goats will move into Dunkin’ Donuts Park this season. However, city officials and Yard Goats’ leadership say that they will still push for a 2016 opening, with general manager Tim Restall quoted in the Courant as saying “We would play any game that we could.”
Image of Dunkin’ Donuts Park from May 2 courtesy Hartford Yard Goats.