There are signs of continued growth for the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League), who have built a strong following at Dunkin’ Donuts Park over the past two seasons and welcomed over 6,800 fans to Thursday’s home opener.
Dunkin’ Donuts Park opened in 2017, after years of planning, construction delays that prevented it from debuting in 2016 as originally intended, and legal wrangling. After spending the entire 2016 campaign on the road, the Yard Goats made the most of their debut 2017 season at Dunkin Donuts’ Park–winning our Team of the Year award and ranking third in the Eastern League in average attendance with 5,812 fans per game.
That number jumped to 6,014 in 2018–putting the Yard Goats second in the Eastern League, behind only Richmond–and Thursday’s 2019 home opener drew an announced crowd of 6,850. There is still some unsettled business for the city concerning Dunkin’ Donuts Park’s planning process–the city remains in a legal dispute with the original developer of the ballpark, which was also supposed to build out the surrounding area–but the Yard Goats show no signs of slowing down. Yard Goats president Tim Restall and other team officials are working to ensure that the franchise continues to grow, and that it and the ballpark can have a positive impact on downtown Hartford. More from the Hartford Courant:
“We never take our foot off the pedal,” Restall said. “And we never take anything for granted.”
There is no sign the Yard Goats will…
The Goats have nothing to do with a proposed $46 million project of apartments, retail and community space that Stamford-based RMS Companies is trying to push through city council. Hartford remains in a long-running legal battle with Centerplan Construction Co., the fired developer of the park that was also contracted to develop the surrounding area. That continues to complicate the matter, but there is movement now, vision of a revamped neighborhood over six years, something we have to hope will be worth another long wait.
“I’m not even the baseball guy, I’m just the venue guy,” Restall said. “Whatever is developed around here, as long as it complements the ballpark, I think it will be a success. We’re doing our part. We’re bringing people to downtown Hartford. On a Monday night in August, we’re getting 6,000 people to downtown Hartford.”
The planning process for Dunkin’ Donuts Park was certainly tumultuous, and there where questions about how fans would respond leading up to its opening. Since it debuted, however, the Yard Goats have built a strong following at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and are intent on carrying that momentum into the future.