6/10/14 Hartford City Council Meeting on Proposed Rock Cats Stadium

Debra Cohen, Activate CT https://www.facebook.com/Activatectnow

I attended the Hartford City Council meeting last night and share this report back:

Due to confusion on my part, I arrived at the Hartford City Council meeting too late last night to sign up to speak on the Rock Cats stadium plan but I was there to hear some great testimony from others. The overwhelming majority of people who I heard speak were in opposition to building the stadium and their reasons included the following:
** Lack of transparency in the process of this decision – citizens of Hartford knew nothing about it until it was announced to be in the works. One person who stated this is a representative of the district in which the stadium is planned to be built! I am sorry I don’t remember his name. One speaker demanded to see an audit type of report from every group responsible for development of this plan.
** The money planned to be spent on the stadium should be used to address other needs in the city. Many people spoke about improvements that are needed at the MLK school. Another speaker brought an impressive list of specifics that could be addressed by 60 million dollars including the hiring of teachers, school renovations, early education opportunities for city youngsters and more.
** Parking – no provisions have been made for adjacent parking.
** Reports that stadium building rarely brings in the revenue that they are meant to bring in.
** Several people challenged the idea that Rock Cat games would be a boon to the restaurant and hotel industry in the city, pointing out that the idea of thousands of people coming to games from out of town and choosing to stay at a city hotel is unrealistic.
** A challenge was made to the claim that the stadium would result in 600 new jobs.
** One person raised the important issue of consequences of closing the existing stadium in New Britain to that city.

The meeting room was full – more full than I have ever witnessed. When the period of public comment was finished there was a lot of continued conversation in the hallway and several people were interviewed for TV. I do not recall the channels that were represented but it was obvious that this topic is a big deal.

The next meeting for public comment will be in July. I will confirm the date and post it here when I am sure. Apparently, this is not a “done deal” but we must watch very closely to be sure that no further decisions are pushed through in secret as has been the case with developments so far.

4 hours ago near Wethersfield, CT
Jay Kamins
I am also concerned how it will affect New Britain. They need revenue too.
4 · 4 hours ago
Debra Cohen
I agree, Jay. That was one of my first reactions. I wonder what the city of Hartford has offered to the team owners to lure them away from New Britain, a city that has supported them for so long.
1 · 4 hours ago
Shannon Watson
Debra. Would you mind if I copy this and send it to David Samuels? He was very interested to hear how it went and may want I use some of the info in his next blog post
4 hours ago
Debra Cohen
Shannon, I let him know I’d be posting it here but there’s no harm sending it on.
1 · 4 hours ago
Norm Braveman
Sounds like a great meeting and like people did their homework and did it well. There are too many stadiums that have been built by public money that end up costing the same public even more because there’s no incentive on the part of the teams or other groups that use it to put the best on the field…they got a free home. And typically it doesn’t end there because they threaten to leave unless they get tax breaks, improvements and other perks. Basically, it’s a down payment on more expenditures of the public’s money. One question that the council could be asked is if the stadium is so important to attracting the best teams, etc. why don’t the owners of those teams pay for it?
3 · 4 hours ago
 
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