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Unions Will Build Hartford Baseball Stadium, and Could Increase Its Cost

Jeff Cohen
Mayor Pedro Segarra (r) and Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon (center) at a recent public hearing.

Hartford's city council will likely approve a deal to build a new minor league baseball stadium on Tuesday, and there’s one new change to the deal: union laborers will do the work. The developer has said that tweak could easily add ten percent to the stadium's cost. 

The council has also decided to put a hard cap on the cost of the stadium at $56 million. Taken together, that means the council has fixed the cost of the project while potentially making it more expensive.

Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR
Bob Landino, right, with business partner Yves Joseph at a potential stadium site in Hartford.

Bob Landino, the developer, said that once he gets real numbers back from the market, he'll have a better sense of the project's total cost. (Hard construction costs are estimated at around $38 million.) If union labor really does add that extra ten percent, it could be time to make some choices.

"You might have a very expensive tile in certain places of the bathrooms or certain places of the public areas," Landino said, "and we might replace it with medium quality tile. In a large building, that could save a half a million dollars. We might use a different mechanical system, which might save $200,000 or $300,000. We might change the design to use less steel. By doing that, you lose some of the sizzle of some of the aspects of the building, but if people could live with that, then it might save another X number of dollars."

Landino said there are other ways to save money, like asking the building trades to contribute to the cost of construction. There's also a last resort, if all else fails. "We would need to go back to the council and ask for an amended budget," he said. "I'm guessing that would be [a political] catastrophe, so I'm guessing that's not going to happen, but that's certainly an option that we have."

Leaving the dollars aside, Landino said he's also concerned about union ability to provide enough workers. "The practicality of it is that three, or four, or five of them won't be able to produce those numbers," he said. "We're going to have to be able to work with them...to try to bring new hires into the trades to get the numbers where we need them to be."

Landino is optimistic. That said, should the council vote in favor of the project, then the hard work begins. "We see the brain surgery, or the difficult part, is now to spring of 2016," he said. That’s when baseball starts. "Once we get to that point, we think the rest of it becomes much easier, and gets more manageable, and less likely to be at risk by a lot."

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