Eastern League President Joe McEacharn
As lawyers for the city of Hartford negotiate restarting construction at Dunkin' Donuts Park, minor league baseball is losing patience.
At a press conference Thursday, Eastern League President Joe McEacharn said he wasn’t exactly happy to be standing in front of a minor league stadium that had no minor league games this year. And with his eyes on 2017, McEacharn said the city, the team, and the league are at a critical point.
"We cannot risk 2017 being played on the road and we're not going to," he said. "If the stadium is not done, baseball will not be in Hartford. That’s the only weapon we have."
Construction on the city funded, nearly $100 million stadium and related roadwork project stopped in June when Mayor Luke Bronin kicked developers DoNo Hartford and Centerplan off the job for being overdue and over budget. Now, the developer’s insurance company, Arch Insurance, is negotiating with the city to figure out how to move forward.
"We're at the point with Arch where either we have to conclude a deal...or move in another direction," said I. Charles Mathews, the head of the city's stadium authority. Matthews said one of the potential sticking points is this: Arch can hire any contractor it wants to finish the job.
"What we have said to them [is] that we would prefer they would not hire DoNo or Centerplan,” he said. “We don’t think they have the capacity to finish the job."
Earlier this week, the Yard Goats offered to loan the city money to finish the ballpark. Bronin declined the loan. But according to Matthews, the city is working on a plan B with the Yard Goats to complete the stadium, just in case.
Meanwhile, McEacharn said he’s feeling the heat.
“I blew it. Plain and simply, I blew it,” he said. “I never anticipated the stadium wouldn’t open during the season. Major League Baseball has come and said, great, you blew it, we'll all move on. But it’s time, Joe. What are you going to do for 2017?”
That's the $100 million question.