With the 2016 home season lost and Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park unfinished and shuttered, the minor league Yard Goats have told the city that they need to know what will happen in 2017 -- or they could leave the home that Hartford built.
On Thursday, they got an indication from the city that construction might soon begin again.
Hartford’s Corporation Counsel Howard Rifkin told the team in an email that the developer’s insurance company reviewing the situation “is actively involved in investigating the condition of the Project and negotiating agreements necessary to the resumption and completion of the Hartford Stadium Project.”
The city effectively kicked the developers -- Centerplan Companies and DoNo Hartford LLC -- off the site back in June because the stadium still wasn’t complete. Everyone will likely fight in court over who was responsible for the delays and cost overruns. But in the meantime, Solomon wants to know whether his team will have a place to play baseball next year.
Centerplan’s surety, Arch Insurance, is evaluating the project and figuring out the best way forward. In his email, Rifkin told Solomon that it is his expectation that Arch Insurance “will act soon and take the steps necessary to reopen the Stadium construction site, have an agreed upon work plan and the critical path necessary to meet new deadlines in order to complete the Stadium Project in a timely way.”
The email was sent to Arch Insurance, as well.
Thursday’s email was in response to a letter team owner Josh Solomon sent the city earlier in the week. The city released that letter Thursday.
“[I]f the Stadium is not completed within 180 days of my June 13 letter, the City will be in default under the [agreement] and the Team will have the right to terminate,” Solomon wrote. “There appears no reasonable prospect that the City will avoid going into default.”
Then Solomon went further.
“The current situation is intolerable,” he wrote. “The City cannot tell the Team when or if the Stadium will be completed. The City appears not to have sufficient monies available to fund the completion of the Stadium. The Team does not have a stadium at which to play home games and has suffered substantial seven figure losses as a result.”
Solomon also told the city that his team faces “drastic consequences” in failing to live up to its agreements with minor league baseball.
“The Club now must take such action as is necessary to protect its interests, to fulfill its obligations to third parties and to arrange for a home ballpark for the 2017 season,” Solomon wrote. “ In the alternative, the Team is willing to consider other options that will insure the ballpark is completed so as not to miss the 2017 season.”
Solomon declined to comment. On Wednesday, Sean Fitzpatrick -- the executive director of the Hartford Stadium Authority -- issued a statement said the city was focused on working with Arch “to complete construction of the ballpark as soon as possible so the Yard Goats can take delivery of their new home. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with the Yard Goats here in Hartford."
Solomon told the city it has until December 13 to finish the stadium, or his team could walk.