Yard Goats to Play Ball at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford
This announcement was about nothing if not branding.
The stadium being built for the minor league Hartford Yard Goats now has a sponsor and a name, and the Yard Goats will play baseball at Dunkin' Donuts Park.
Team owner Josh Solomon said the deal with Dunkin' Donuts is signed, but he wouldn't provide any financial numbers. The city is counting on yearly payments for the naming rights to help pay its more than $4 million annual debt service on the $60 million stadium.
But Solomon did say this: "We are thrilled Dunkin' has made this commitment to the City of Hartford, to Yard Goats baseball, and the great fans of this region," he said.
Solomon also spoke of the stadium as a new home. "A home that will produce many major league ball players," he said. "But more importantly, a home that will serve as a beacon for community involvement and, of course, baseball fans of all ages."
When Dunkin's Tom Manchester took the podium, an assistant brought him an iced coffee. After all, this announcement was about nothing if not branding.
"Oh, what perfect timing," Manchester said. "Thank you. Just the way I like it, too. Milk and two sugars... Simply put, baseball is known as America's greatest past time. And America runs on Dunkin'. We put these two basic truths together, and now we're ready to say, play ball in Hartford. We are ready to go."
As part of their arrangement, Dunkin' and the Yard Goats will give away 30 tickets each game to local community groups. Mayor Pedro Segarra praised the announcement, the project, the jobs he said it will create, and opening day. "I'm actually looking forward to baseball being played in our city once again," he said.
Construction is on a tight timeline. At a meeting earlier this week of the Hartford Stadium Authority, which oversees the project, the city's representative said that there's no room for second guessing, surprises, or mistakes.
Also, in less favorable news, the city said it failed to get legislative approval for a plan to send it more than $400,000 a year in state admissions tax revenue. That was also money that was budgeted to pay of the stadium debt. Without that money, the city now has a ten percent hole to fill -- something it said it will be able to do, possibly with different legislative action in the future.
Finally, the stadium's developers said they are still in negotiations with the owners of the Hooker Brewery and possible supermarket operators.