New Britain Sees Opportunity with Hartford Baseball Delays

The city of New Britain and the newly established New Britain Bees Minor League Baseball team are looking to take advantage of some of the recent struggles that have gone on in Hartford.

The Hartford Yard Goats won't take the field in the capital city until May 31 under a new agreement to finance the $10 million completion of Dunkin' Donuts Park, the team's new downtown stadium.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announced he had brokered the deal between the city, team, and stadium developer after delays in the construction became public in December.

The Rock Cats announced in June 2014 they would play baseball in Hartford in 2016.

The Bees, however, are full speed ahead for first pitch at New Britain Stadium on April 21.

“We’re very excited. We have a great schedule," said Bill Dowling, a Senior Advisor to the Bees, and a one-time owner of the New Britain Rock Cats, the team that became the Hartford Yard Goats.

"We have a great team.”

City and team officials are now shopping around naming rights for New Britain Stadium to companies looking for added exposure. City officials confirmed to NBC Connecticut that the asking price for a ten year naming rights agreement is $500,000.

Mayor Erin Stewart, who landed the Bees after the abrupt departure of the Rock Cats, said it's a great chance for both the city and a suitor.

“Why not do it here?" Stewart asks. "What’s important is that the option is there and it also gives the team an extra added boost. But for the business there are going to be hundreds of thousands of people that come through those stadium doors on an annual basis and their name will be there prominently displayed.”

Dowling with the New Britain Bees said he expects to see some added ticket sales as a result of the Yard Goats not being in town for the entire months of April and May. The team has announced it will play its first 28 games on the road.

“I think it will mean a lot to some of the schools and maybe some of the groups in April or May that people from Hartford will come here" Dowling said. "I think it’s an opportunity that we have to seize and we have to leap on it and we have to take advantage of the best we have and get people in here to provide great family entertainment.”

Stewart said she's excited that baseball will continue in New Britain after many thought it may not come back following the departure of the Rock Cats. She said it's not lost on her that New Britain will be ready for baseball as Hartford will still have shovels in the ground.

“I’m feeling pretty good," she said.

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