Hartford Stadium Analysis – ‘There Was Always a Better Plan: The DoNo That Might Have Been’

by David Samuels

This column appears in the April 20 – 27 edition of the Hartford News…

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The good news: Gov. Dan Malloy will not run for re-election in 2018. The bad news: the Connecticut Democrats will nominate someone with the same neoliberal agenda. What Malloy has done as Governor for 8 years is not unique – he is a disciple of Clinton New Democrats neoliberalism, which consists of privatizing human services, attacking public sector workers (largest employer of Blacks and women) and soaking the working class and the poor with taxes, while coddling the rich and corporations.
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Policy Watch: Hartford Baseball Stadium
 
Food for thought on why former Hartford city council president Shawn Wooden repeatedly touted Dunkin’ Donuts stadium as an “economic driver”, when data regarding sports stadiums clearly shows the opposite…
“Black capitalism won’t cure black unemployment… Karl Marx wrote 170 years ago that capitalist economies always require a large reserve of unemployed workers to depress the wages of those currently employed. That has not changed. So black unemployment is not a bug in capitalism, it is a core feature. There’s nothing in the fantastical black capitalist universe to prevent the gentrification of black and brown communities either, because under this economic system the only value a stable poor or working class neighborhood possesses is the value which might be realized by flipping it, by expelling the current residents and moving in hotels, stadiums and richer, usually whiter inhabitants. This particular feature of capitalism explains why the black political class has never been able to offer any alternative model of urban economic development to its low and moderate income constituents.” ~ Dr. Jared Ball
 
My thoughts on Hartford Yard Goats Opening Night… Baseball is my favorite sport. However that can’t obscure the following facts: 1) A much needed North End supermarket and healthy food hub was scrapped in a secret deal brokered by former mayor Pedro Segarra and Wooden, so Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium could be built. North End residents are subjected to food apartheid, as they’re denied access to healthy foods that are plentiful in white communities. People such as Courant columnist Dan Haar calling for us to just forget about the stadium process and root, root, root for the home team actually want you to forget about this fact the most.
2) Multiple studies show that a sports stadium has little to no effect on the local economy, and in some cases hurts the economy.http://news.stanford.edu/2015/07/30/stadium-economics-noll-073015/ Temple University economist Michael Leeds said that if all FIVE sports teams left the city of Chicago, the economic impact would be a fraction of one percent. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/mar/03/economic-impact-chargers-leaving-san-diego-would-b/
I share the opinion of local activist and North End resident Jamil Ragland, a vocal opponent of the stadium who was a guest last week on WNPR’s Where We Live program. Ragland reiterated his opinion that the stadium will not help his community, but said he will attend some games because the stadium is within walking distance of his home, and he sees no point in boycotting the facility now that it’s here. I will also probably set foot in the stadium at some point as it is minutes away from my home, but I will also continue to push for the supermarket / healthy foods complex that was cast aside because of corrupt behavior by Segarra, and Wooden.
This week we present an excerpt of Jamil’s 2016 analysis of the Hartford stadium deal, which originally appeared in Nutmegger Daily (co-founded by Jamil).  The full column is available on their website. http://www.nutmeggerdaily.com/?p=156
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There Was Always a Better Plan: The DoNo That Might Have Been



I am not a journalist. I am a writer who loves my city, my neighborhood and the people who inhabit them. Every time I walk past Dunkin’ Donuts Park and glance through the shuttered doors at the manicured, empty field, I feel sadness and anger. The people I love and the neighborhoods we all live in are now on the hook for a project which may never live up to the promises which were made two years ago. Instead of an economic engine, we have an unfinished monument to arrogance and poor planning. So no, I don’t intend to write about the development in Downtown North with objectivity or a dispassionate view. You won’t find any quotes from former Mayor Segarra, Thomas Deller, the Solomons or the Centerplan developers. They’ve controlled the narrative since the “done deal” was announced.
Instead, I want to introduce you to Rex Fowler, the Executive Director of the Hartford Community Loan Fund. I’ve known Rex for just over two years. In fact, the first time I met Rex, I was visiting him in his home on Vineland Street to discuss the details of the very development plan I’m going to be writing about. The plan didn’t center around a baseball stadium. Its main focus was a grocery store which would be the anchor for a major development project in Downtown North. We’ve heard stories about a mythical grocery store coming to this area, but I don’t think many residents of the city know how close we were to finally having a critical part of any healthy, thriving community before it was torpedoed by the very people in City Hall who’d asked for it. A great deal of thought and effort, from multiple organizations and individuals, was marshaled to lay the groundwork for a successful development that responded to the needs of everyone near Downtown North. And it was all swept away by that press conference on June 4th, 2014.
After you read this, I hope that you experience the same feelings of sadness and anger which I do when I pass the stadium. Let’s take that anger and do something positive with it. Let’s imagine development and opportunity in our city which reflects the needs and desires of all of its residents. Let’s be active politically and economically to ensure that our voices are heard. We study the past to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes in the future. Dunkin’ Donuts Park may be here to stay (even if the Yard Goats aren’t), but we can make sure that the next big idea in Hartford has the residents at its center.
* * *
Before we begin, we need to establish some context regarding how serious the lack of affordable, quality food is for residents in Hartford, especially low-income residents and residents of color. In 2014, The Reinvestment Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with ties to the U.S. Treasury Department, issued a report titled “2014 Analysis of Limited Supermarket Access.” In the report, Connecticut ranked first (meaning worst) among the 48 lower states in terms of limited supermarket access for low-income residents.
CT Rank
The report states,
Connecticut exhibits the highest income disparity ratio at 2.0, followed by Pennsylvania (1.9), Ohio (1.8), Kansas (1.7), and the District of Columbia (1.7) in the top five. In other words, Connecticut’s low-income residents constitute 58% of the state’s [Limited Supermarket Access] area residents compared to only 29% of the general population; hence the state’s food access problem disproportionately affects low-income residents more so than any other state.
The chart also demonstrates that, as a percentage, 1.5 times more people of color live in limited supermarket access areas than their percentage of the population. While this report doesn’t rank the city of Hartford itself, an earlier report from The Reinvestment Fund did score Hartford against other similarly sized cities. In its 2011 report “A Summary of Searching for Markets,” Hartford ranked 8th in the nation among cities with populations between 100,000-250,000 in terms of the “scale of the problem and burden on low-income people.” By the way, Connecticut as a state ranked 4th on the worst states list. The problem of low supermarket access in Connecticut actually became worse between 2011 to 2014. Keep that timeframe in mind.
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Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at samuelssloflo@aol.com..   

 

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