The plan to build a professional soccer stadium in Hartford is now officially dead, but the controversy around it isn't.
On Friday, Councilman Ken Kennedy withdrew his resolution to lease land for the stadium to a developer after news broke that the developer had legal and financial troubles. But now the city has those troubles, too. One of the partners in the deal -- Premier Sports Management Group -- has apparently overbilled the city for the work it has already done.
"We want the money back," said Development Director Thomas Deller, adding that the company has "committed to pay the money back."
"We are still evaluating every bill, every item, every subcontract that" the sports management group has. "We caught this mistake. We've been trying to figure out what the mistake is."
Deller wouldn't put a dollar figure on it, except to say that the city was overbilled by "a large number."
Deller said that Premier was awarded a contract in 2014 to design and build a stadium and land a professional soccer team. That was before it partnered with Black Diamond Consulting Group -- whose principal, James Duckett, was part of a soccer ownership group. But Duckett has problems of his own -- issues big enough to compel Kennedy to kill the project altogether.
"While I continue to believe in this project, it’s become clear that this proposal with these developers is not in the best interest of the City and its residents," Kennedy said. "As we continue to dig deeper, we find more issues that cause great concern."
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra also issued a statement, below:
I am angered and disappointed to learn that during the course of the City’s due diligence for the Dillon Stadium project, disturbing issues and questions have surfaced regarding the project’s investors. We are reviewing every payment made to the developer, Premier Sports Management Group, to ensure accurate accounting.
Deller said the oversight happened in his department, and it is therefore his responsibility.
Meanwhile, Segarra said the police, city lawyers, and others are working to make sure the city gets its money back.
A phone call and email to Premier Sports Management Group were not immediately returned.