The Connecticut Tigers (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) and Norwich officials are negotiating a lease renewal that, if finalized, would trigger Dodd Stadium upgrades.
Back in April, the Norwich City Council approved an $800,000 bond ordinance that would cover upgrades to the ballpark. Among the repairs that are expected to be addressed by that bond include the installation of LED lighting, a new HVAC system, and extended netting.
The use of that bond money is contingent on renewing the lease with the Tigers, who are committed to Dodd Stadium through 2019 as part of a 10-year agreement. Out of the areas of the ballpark that are being targeted for repairs, Baseball Stadium Authority officials are particularly worried about the condition of the current HVAC system, portions of which are failing repeatedly. The city and the Tigers are still in negotiations over the terms of a renewed lease. More from The Day:
The authority met at the stadium Wednesday prior to the Connecticut Tigers game and discussed stadium operations and maintenance needs. Authority member Gary Schnip, who oversees stadium operations, said various portions of the HVAC system have been failing regularly, and service calls for repairs are needed at least weekly, sometimes multiple times in a week.
Replacing the HVAC system, replacing stadium lights, which no longer meet Major League Baseball standards, with energy-efficient LED lights, and extending protective netting around the infield all are expected to be covered in an $800,000 bond approved by the City Council in spring.
But city officials made spending the bond money contingent on renewing the lease with the Connecticut Tigers minor league baseball affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The current 10-year lease runs through the 2019 baseball season.
City Manager John Salomone, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, said later that the city’s version of a proposed draft new lease is in the hands of the city attorney and will be forwarded to Tigers’ officials soon. Salomone said the city is not looking for major changes to the lease.
Dodd Stadium originally opened in 1995 for the Norwich Navigators (Class AA; Eastern League), a team that would later rebrand as the Connecticut Defenders before relocating to Richmond, VA prior to the 2010 season. The Oneonta Tigers then moved to Norwich and Dodd Stadium, where they have played as the Connecticut Tigers since 2010.