Two Republican candidates for governor are questioning the proposed move by the New Britain Rock Cats to a new baseball stadium that would be built near Interstate 84 on Main Street in Hartford.
“I am surprised that a team with record attendance and a long-standing relationship with New Britain would be looking for an alternative home,” said Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield. “However, I’m clearly not familiar with all of the behind-the-scenes conversations among all the parties. I certainly do not expect that the taxpayers of the state will be asked to support any part of financing a $60 million minor league baseball stadium.”
McKinney added, “I understand that Governor Malloy has stated that he has not been involved nor has any state financial support been pledged for the moving of the team. I take him at his word. However, I think that the people of New Britain –who supported his election four years ago — deserve to know from the governor that, as long as he’s governor, he will not commit state dollars to relocate such a great community asset from New Britain to Hartford.”
Less than 30 minutes earlier, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who is running against McKinney and Greenwich business executive Tom Foley in the August 12 Republican primary for governor, said, “I am a baseball fan but spending $60 million on a new stadium in Hartford is a very, very bad investment. The economics just don’t work.”
The Hartford Courant has been reporting that Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has at least five votes on the city council to move forward with constructing a 9,000-seat stadium for an estimated $60 million that could open as early as the spring of 2016.
Boughton cited an article in a publication of the Federal Reserve in St. Louis that stated, “The weight of economic evidence, however, shows that taxpayers spend a lot of money and ultimately don’t get much back. And when this paltry return is compared with other potential uses of the funds, the investment, almost always, seems unwise.”
Ben Zimmer, a Yale Law School graduate who runs a think tank that was created by Republican candidate Tom Foley, said, “Even if the state is not directly subsidizing the new stadium, state taxpayers are paying for it indirectly because about half of Hartford’s city budget is funded through transfers from state government. City spending on the stadium means less money is available for other priorities. So unless Hartford cuts other services to pay for this stadium, the state will likely have to pick up the slack.”