HARTFORD -- City leaders broke ground on Tuesday, signifying the start of construction of a brand new, minor league baseball stadium.
The ceremony, held at the site of the stadium at 1214 Main St., included the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and project leaders shoveled dirt onto what looked like a pitcher's mound.
Rock Cats team owner Josh Solomon, City Council President Shawn Wooden and Mayor Pedro Segarra addressed the crowd, touting the economic benefits of a Double A franchise bordering Hartford's blighted North End. "We are moving development northward and we are looking to see revitalization in ever neighborhood, ever corridor, ever area of this city," Wooden said.
According to a University of Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis study, the park is expected to develop over 1,800 temporary construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs.
Construction of the ballpark is expected to cost $56 million, and it will be paid out in increments of about $2.4 million per year for 26 years. The city's newly created, quasi-publicly run Hartford Stadium Authority will borrow money upfront and then pay off the construction debt to Centerplan Construction, which is contracted to build the stadium.
The ballpark is also part of a $350 million redevelopment plan referred to as Downtown North, which will include a brewery, grocery store, residences and other commercial areas.
The road to approval for the ballpark met with plenty of opposition. Some city residents argued Hartford should invest in other endeavors, such as education."They refused a referendum for the people and we still think it should be a referendum. They turned a blind eye to all the financial facts that many of us tried to tell them over all these months," vocal opponent JoAnne Bauer said Tuesday.
If all goes as planned, the ballpark is expected to open in April of 2016.
A contest is being held so fans can help select a new team name. If you have a suggestion, you can submit it here.