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For Yard Goats Stadium, How Done Is Done?

The players liked what they saw, but the developers and their hundreds of workers are racing.

Tuesday is the day that Hartford’s new minor league Dunkin' Donuts Park is technically supposed to be done. On Monday, I took a tour. 

I'm not a lawyer, and I can't say whether the stadium for the Hartford Yard Goats will be, as the contracts say, "substantially complete."

But I can say this: There's a lot of work to do.

Still, standing at home plate, the place looked pretty good to people like Dillon Thomas. He's an outfielder from Houston who took a tour with a few of his fellow Yard Goats, and he liked the look of a ballpark in the middle of a city.

"You look at big league stadiums, and everything like that, most of those stadiums are built in the city," Thomas said. "So, playing ball, you know, you grow up and that's what we all play for -- to play in the big leagues."

Ashley Graeter catches for the team. He had his eye on the right field stands.

"Having the two-layer, the two-tiered stands out here, you don't see any minor league parks like that, hardly," said Graeter, who’s from Mississippi. "You hardly even see stands in the outfield."

We then went into the stadium area out of view of the field. It's those interior spaces -- concessions, locker rooms, team store, hallways, bathrooms -- that still needed work. They were getting it. And it was loud.

Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR
The merchandise store for the Hartford Yard Goats is still a work in progress.

The home team locker room still needs work. But at least it was quiet. And it gave the players a chance to see some of the cool things in store -- like locked safes with power outlets for their phones. That was a big hit.

But while the players liked what they saw, there's no denying that the developers at Centerplan Companies and their hundreds of workers are racing.

"From the city's perspective, the important thing is that the developer hits that May 17 substantial completion date," said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

If the developers miss their deadline, the Yard Goats could be able to hold back $2 million from the project that is already late and over budget. And for Bronin, another important factor is whether the Yard Goats will be able to get into the stadium and prepare in time for opening day on May 31.

The clock is ticking.

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