Special Report: Shawn Wooden Flip-Flops on Rock Cats Deal

What a difference two weeks and public outcry makes… On June 4 Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden stood next to Mayor Pedro Segarra, as they proudly announced a deal with the owner of the New Britain Rock Cats to bring the minor league baseball team to Hartford. Since then community residents have voiced outrage and state legislators – including Sen, Eric Coleman, who Wooden is challenging in an August 12 primary, expressed dismay at the lack of transparency surrounding the deal. Wooden initially continued to defend the Rock Cats move, saying that community residents would understand after they got more information. Wooden has now officially flip-flopped, saying that he will not support the construction of a stadium for the Rock Cats unless private investors put some money up.
 
Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie opined that the Wooden / Coleman primary has become a referendum on Rock Cats-gate.
“Any sports team, but especially baseball, is a bauble politicians cannot resist. Decades of economic studies, however, have frequently concluded that their benefits are oversold to entice taxpayers into footing the costs of building stadiums for rich team owners.
A baseball stadium is a major investment and serious risk to city finances that requires meaningful public participation. Giving the people who are going to have to pay for the stadium a voice in how or whether to proceed appears to be what Segarra and his allies fear most. They trust a duplicitous Boston real estate developer but fear the people of Hartford. However you feel about the proposal, the manner in which it was shaped, presented and defended ought to give you pause. Thanks to Eric Coleman, thousands of Hartford Democrats will have a chance to express themselves in a meaningful way. A Coleman victory and Wooden defeat on Aug. 12 will send the kind of message politicians do not need translated.”
 
Coleman is obviously taking advantage of a golden opportunity to throw some dirt on Wooden, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party over the longtime incumbent. Still, the latest development is great news for opponents of the stadium.
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