It might not be the grand slam the Hartford mayor was hoping for after dozens of people flooded Monday’s city council meeting protesting against a new baseball stadium.
The new $60 million baseball park would sit at 1214 Main Street just north of downtown if it is built. But it was down the street at City Hall where people were yelling and chanting Monday.
Mayor Pedro Segarra has called the stadium “a done deal,” but Monday, plenty of residents said it’s a deal they don’t want.
“All of that money is going there, but nothing is really being done in my community. So that hurts me,” said Evelyn Richardson.
She lives in Hartford’s North End, where the team’s new home would be built.
“I didn’t know anything about it. I just heard about it yesterday,” said Richardson.
Transparency was a concern among many, including Joshua Blanchfield, who was one of several people holding up signs in protest.
In his case, the “K” sign was the same symbol used in baseball to represent strikeouts.
“It is a boon for the owners and the corporations, and every single time every municipality is stuck holding the bill. Ask Bristol, ask New Britain now. What’s next?” said Blanchfield.
Mayor Segarra has said the stadium would bring hundreds of jobs to Hartford and bolster the economy.
“The projections are off. They’re pie in the sky projections for this Rock Cats stadium,” said JoAnne Bauer, who lives in Hartford’s West End.
Monday’s meeting marked the first true public comment on the deal.
City Council President Shawn Wooden said the city council also just learned about the deal last week.
“People are concerned about the price tag. People are concerned about other priorities of the city. But the main thing is that a lot more information needs to be shared,” said Wooden.
A group of concerned parents also spoke out, saying they would prefer renovations to their children’s schools, over a stadium.
But North End business owner Rodney Matthews, of Exclusive Linez, believes a baseball stadium could work.
“Hopefully, it does what it’s supposed to do and everybody gets a little piece of the action. You know, a few times a week, it’d be great. I think it’s good to have a team like that in Hartford, though. I think it’d be a good thing.”
Mayor Segarra’s office emailed a statement to the press after the meeting as follows:
“We have understood from the beginning that this project would require public discussion, participation and dialogue. Just like tonight there will be many opportunities to learn more about how this revitalization will be an asset to the community for years to come.”
Several state politicians who represent Hartford in their districts spoke largely in favor of the stadium deal but said they had major questions.
The proposal now goes to committee and is brought before the council again on July 21 for another round of public discourse.