Opponents protesting the construction of a minor-league baseball stadium in Hartford raised their concerns at City Hall tonight, but the City Council moved forward with plans to build, approving land purchases for both the ballpark and the Downtown North development.
The council voted to buy two acres of vacant land on Windsor Street, where the ballpark would be situated, and 14 additional properties from covered bridge ventures where businesses, restaurants and residential buildings could crop up.
Hartford is in talks with the Rock Cats to move the team over from New Britain, but city officials say the land purchase isn't just about baseball – it was part of the original Downtown North project before the Rock Cats came into the picture.
On the issue of funding, City Councilmember Larry Deutsch says it's already in the budget, thanks to a line item dedicated to acquiring properties for future development.
Hartford has received four proposals to develop Downtown North, which will house the stadium, three of which were found to meet the criteria for construction.
Now the Bloomfield-based Thomas Hooker Brewing Company, Boston’s CV Properties LLC and Leyland Alliance out of New York, in partnership with Centerplan in Middletown, will compete to win the bid. The City Council has yet to review those proposals.
Many Hartford residents say they’ve been kept in the dark and excluded from discussions. At Monday night's meeting, they hoisted signs that read, “No Stadium Deal!” and “Hartford needs many things… A new stadium isn’t on the list.”
“We’re very interested in these proposals. We haven’t heard much. We’ve heard nothing about the financial end of it. We’re still waiting for this transparency to happen,” said Anne Goshdigian of the Hartford Coalition to Stop the Stadium.
She wasn't alone. Joanne Bauer of Hartford called the stadium proposal "sadly and deeply troubling" and said the city's proceedings represent "a huge failure in communication."
For the city, it's full speed ahead. Hartford will move forward with making the purchases, and next month, the council will review the development proposals and narrow down their options.
The mayor's office said the city could select a finalist sometime in September.