The Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) were dragged into the legal proceedings surrounding the uncompleted construction of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, as the dismissed contractors filed suit, claiming that the team interfered with their attempts to finish construction of the ballpark.
Technically, the Yard Goats are accused of interference with contractual relationships and violation of state unfair trade practices, as well as demanding changes to the ballpark that caused Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford to miss two construction deadlines, leading to a snowball of delays that ultimately led the Yard Goats and the Eastern League to pull the plug on any home games. Also at stake: 900 units of proposed apartment development surrounding the ballpark, which could be taken over by Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon if the ballpark is not completed by Sept. 1. Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford have already filed suit against the city, saying they were fired as developers prematurely and not given the opportunity to correct any problems.
The first missed deadline resulted in an additional $10 million in construction costs and the team’s playing its early season home games on the road. The second missed deadline resulted in the city firing the developers from the project in June and the team’s playing its entire season on the road.
The suit alleges that Solomon knew in both instances that the design changes would jeopardize the developers’ ability to meet the deadlines.
According to the lawsuit, in both instances that caused missed deadlines, the team and the city met without the developers to make changes to the design of the stadium that resulted in cost overruns and construction delays.
We earlier wrote about the potential of the Yard Goats playing elsewhere in 2017 if Dunkin’ Donuts Park is not completed at the beginning of the season. While this would certainly be a worst-case scenario for both the team and the city, it does give the city a clear deadline to clean up the ballpark mess. This season the Yard Goats played the entire season on the road; next season the team could share a ballpark with a short-season A team (Dodd Stadium in Norwich meets Double-A requirements). Two teams sharing a ballpark isn’t ideal, but it’s been done in the past (Greer Stadium, Nashville) and present (Roger Dean Stadium, Palm Beach). Still, it doesn’t sound like the Yard Goats are looking anywhere else but Dunkin’ Donuts Park for 2017.
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