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Paying For Hartford's New Stadium and Neighborhood Developments

City of Hartford

Earlier this week, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced he had picked a developer to build a new minor league baseball stadium and other surrounding buildings in a new, $350 million project. As the deal moves to the city council for its review, however, there are still a lot of questions. 

When it comes to proposal, public numbers are still hard to come by. City council Minority Leader Larry Deutsch got some. "I received this city of Hartford budget and revenue analysis sheet from one of the city council members who attended a briefing on the subject earlier this week," he said.  

Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR
City Councilman Larry Deutsch at Hartford City Hall in a file photo.

Here's what the document said: the city will lease the stadium from the developer for $4.8 million a year after the first two years. That lease will eventually increase. The payment will be offset by revenue to the city for things naming rights, rent, taxes, and parking fees.

Deutsch questions some of the numbers. "Parking permit fee," he said. "Most important. $1.9 million every year. We have no explanation. What is the parking permit fee, and who on earth would pay it?"

Deutsch is also concerned that paying for the project out of the city's general fund, as opposed to borrowing the money, could sidestep possible public input in the form of a referendum.

Three groups submitted proposals to the city. In the end, the city chose one led by Middletown's Centerplan Development Company, and its partner Leyland Alliance. They want to build a new stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats, municipal office space, a grocery store, a brewery, and an elevated little league park.

In exchange for that, and other development, the group will get 19 surrounding properties for $1.00 each from the city.

Shawn Wooden, the council's president, said the council has now started the process of vetting the numbers, and has hired an outside consultant to analyze the project. He also liked the way the discussion has progressed. "We are now at a place where many us have been, which is interested in developing Downtown North generally," he said. "We're now having that discussion, and not having this narrow, limited discussion with respect to a ballpark."

A public hearing is scheduled for September 17.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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