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Centerplan CEO: City Recklessly Terminated Contract

Dunkin' Donuts Park

One week after his company’s contract was terminated by the Hartford Stadium Authority, Centerplan Cos. CEO Robert A. Landino is taking shots at the city and the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League).

Through a blistering op-ed in the Hartford Courant, Landino defends his company’s work on the Dunkin’ Donuts Park project and calls the city’s decision to terminate the contract “reckless.” While making the case that Centerplan was in a position to finish the project, he alleges that city officials under mayor Luke Bronin insisted on too many design changes and that the Yard Goats are also culpable in the ballpark’s ongoing delay. More from the Courant:

I say this from the perspective of the last 25 years during which I have always tried to commit myself to public service, nonprofit work and charity, all while working at my profession in real estate development and construction. I served on my local conservation commission, as an elected selectman and as a state representative in the General Assembly. I also worked on several nonprofit boards, and consider these aspects of my life just as important as the financial rewards associated with capitalism. I have lived my entire life in the state that I love, Connecticut, and have great affection for its cities, in particular Hartford and New Haven, which I have spent a vast portion of my childhood and adult life enjoying.

It’s that experience and commitment that I brought to building Dunkin’ Donuts Park, all of which has been pushed aside in favor of political expediency. We can save the lengthy legal debates over contractual obligations and who was responsible for design, budget and code compliance for the lawyers. I firmly believe that the facts categorically support Centerplan’s position, but the bottom line is that disputes happen in construction. There is a process for resolution. That process is not via press conferences under the thinly veiled posturing about there being “a new sheriff in town.”

Mayor Luke Bronin and I. Charles Mathews, the chairman of the Hartford Stadium Authority, usurped elected city council members and were bullied into hitting the nuclear button on the project. And why? Because Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon wants his state-of-the-art ballpark handed to him now, and not in a few more weeks, despite literally hundreds of changes that were directed by him and the city in the months of April and May. It is disheartening to witness political maneuvering overrule sound business principles.

This is the first shot that Centerplan Cos. has publicly taken at the Yard Goats since the deal was voided. While the team did back the city’s decision to terminate the contract, most of the tension to this point has been between city officials and those at Centerplan Cos. and DoNo, LLC. Those conflicts continue in this piece, as Landino criticizes Hartford officials for a “void in leadership” and says that Bronin allowed too many changes to be handed down from consultants and other city employees.

At the time, the authority justified its decision to back out its deal with Centerplan Cos. by citing an email from the developer in which it was stated that the ballpark could be at least another 60 days from being ready occupancy. The opening of Dunkin’ Donuts Park has already been delayed several times, with a missed deadline for a May 31 launch resulting in a series of fines to the developer.

Since the contract was terminated, Centerplan and DoNo, LLC officials have been adamant that they are being unfairly blamed for the delays and overruns at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. This is unfolding as the city awaits the result of a pending request for a performance bond from Arch Insurance.

Expect there to be more finger pointing over the next several weeks. The Yard Goats will continue to play on the road through the middle of July and, with no firm opening date for Dunkin’ Donuts Park on the horizon, the Eastern League may be left with no choice but to make additional changes to the team’s schedule.

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

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