Two Republican candidates for governor, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, both panned Hartford’s plan to build a $60 million stadium to move a minor league baseball team from New Britain to Hartford.
“I am a baseball fan but spending $60 million on a new stadium in Hartford is a very, very bad investment,” Boughton said. “The economics just don’t work.”
Boughton cited an April 2001 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that concluded “the rate of return a city or metropolitan area receives for its investment is generally below that of alternative projects.”
“A new stadium is a shiny object but it doesn’t create real economic opportunities for people,” Boughton, who was endorsed by New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart at the Republican convention last month, said.
McKinney said he was surprised that “a team with record attendance and a long standing relationship with New Britain would be looking for an alternative home. However, I’m clearly not familiar with all of the behind the scenes conversations among all the parties.”
According to Hartford officials and ownership of the Rock Cats, discussions about the new stadium and 25-year lease have been ongoing for the past 17 months. The plan is to move the team to Hartford in 2016.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he had heard the rumors, but was not involved in any of the conversations regarding the move.
“We were not involved at all,” Malloy said Wednesday at an unrelated press conference in New Britain.
No state money is currently involved in the deal.
“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 said in an email.
Hartford officials said Wednesday that they were looking to finance the new stadium with bonds and perhaps tax increment financing.
Stewart said the team’s lease in New Britain is up in March 2015. If they decide to leave she said she would hunt for another minor league baseball team to call New Britain home.