A day after the owner of the Hartford Yard Goats publicly offered to loan the city the money it needs to complete its stalled baseball stadium, Mayor Luke Bronin has declined to take him up on it.
In an interview Tuesday, Bronin said the job of finishing the stadium falls squarely on the insurance company backing the project’s former developer, who Bronin kicked off the job back in June. That, by contract, is how it’s supposed to work.
So even though team owner Josh Solomon and Minor League Baseball would like to expedite things to ensure games will be played in Hartford in 2017, Bronin said his goal is to protect taxpayers.
“We obviously appreciate Josh Solomon’s sense of urgency and we share it,” Bronin said. “We continue to believe that the best result for Hartford’s taxpayers is to get Arch Insurance to step up, take full control and full responsibility for the remaining financial costs.”
Meanwhile, the cost for the stadium and its related projects continues to add up. While former Mayor Pedro Segarra originally agreed to build a stadium for less than $60 million, Bronin now says that was a lowball figure that didn't include things like roadwork improvements.
“This is a project that the prior administration began and, all told, the costs already outlaid are going to be approaching $100 million,” Bronin said. “Obviously, the developers went over budget and far behind schedule as far back as January. But the bulk of the costs that bring the stadium so high above what was told to the public are the fact that the prior administration simply agreed to pay, on the quiet, for all of these roadwork improvements that cost tens of millions of dollars.”
City auditors are analyzing the total financial outlay on the project and are expected to release a report in the near future. The stadium was begun on the premise that it could be built in a year -- one which seemed ambitious from the start.
By the time opening day rolled around, the stadium was overdue, over budget, and far from complete. The Yard Goats ended up playing their entire 2016 season on the road. In June, the city terminated the developer, Centerplan Companies, and asked its insurer to step in and finish the project.
Meanwhile, the architect on the project is continuing to figure out just what work remains. At the same time, Bronin said city lawyers and attorneys for Arch Insurance continue their negotiations. But three months after the stadium was supposed to be done, no construction has taken place since June, and the Yard Goats are getting nervous.
On Monday, Solomon said he was “desperate” and offered to loan the city the money it needs to finish the job. On Tuesday, he declined to comment.