UPDATE June 7: And now the you-know-what has hit the fan. Following accusations by Yard Goats ownership and Hartford’s mayor and counter-accusations by the head of the developer building Dunkin’ Donuts Park, it came to a head on June 6. That’s when officials from the City of Hartford ordered that construction work stop on the site so that an investigation could be conducted to determine who is at fault and what remains to be completed. City officials indicated that they prefer that the developers, Centerplan Companies and DoNo Hartford LLC, be fired and a new construction firm be named.
On June 7, city officials toured the site. They found several dozen workers within the stadium (some securing building materials so work could be shut down, while others were busy at their normal tasks, saying their supervisors told them to keep working). The City then ordered that all workers leave and the facility be locked down.
The investigation by the insurance company on the project, Arch Insurance, could take several weeks, during which no work will be done. They will then determine how and by whom the rest of the work should be completed. The stoppage could mean that no baseball will be played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park this season, as the team and the Eastern League haven’t announced how the remainder of the Yard Goats’ schedule will be handled. (Details in the Hartford Courant. They aptly called this a “construction fiasco.”)
Read on for our look at the ballpark on the day on which it was supposed to open (May 31).
When word came down that the developer of Dunkin’ Donuts Park was going to miss the already delayed deadline to deliver the ballpark two weeks ago — meaning the opener wasn’t going to be May 31 (or anywhere close to it) — I decided to keep my flight and hotel reservations anyway. I’d booked a lot of other things on this roadtrip around the opener, and I didn’t want to cancel them. Besides, I wanted to see the new park with my own two eyes.
So I’m in Hartford now, even though the Yard Goats aren’t playing here. That didn’t stop me from scrutinizing the ballpark from the outside, as I peered through fences and gates trying to get a look at exactly what’s not finished.
My unfortunate conclusions are these: even now, two weeks after the missed deadline to turn over a “substantially complete” ballpark to the team, it is still woefully unfinished; while I’m sure completing the park quickly is a high priority for all parties involved in the project, you sure couldn’t tell it today. I know it’s Memorial Day, but no work — at all — was being done on the park. No seven-days-a week-no-matter-what was going on.
I’d read in the Hartford Courant (which just ran an excellent editorial on the mess, by the way) that it’s a union holiday, so work wasn’t going to be done … but if the developer were committed to completing the park on the first possible date, they would’ve found a way to keep working. I mean, what if they would’ve kept the opening date of tomorrow (the 31st) and there were still last-minute things to be completed? Would no one have been working today?
This is awful, because the team and the fans of Hartford deserve better. It appears that it is a facility with a wonderful design, and when it’s finally done (whatever month or, if lawsuits start flying, year that is), it will serve the community very well for decades to come. But it’s just not ready.
Let’s take a look at the current state of Dunkin’ Donuts Park:
|No tickets are being sold here. This is on the main entry plaza at the corner of Main Street and Trumbull Street.