HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The New Britain Rock Cats are moving to Hartford, according to the team’s owner.
Joined by two players, and the team owner, Hartford mayor Pedro Segarra announced he has the unanimous support of the city council to approve $60 million in borrowing to build a state of the art 9,000 seat baseball stadium on the northern edge of downtown Hartford.
“This team transfer is intended to prevent the Rock Cats from leaving the state of Connecticut,” Segarra said.
The mayor and others confirmed that they have been talking to the team ownership about a possible move to Hartford over most of the past two baseball seasons as the end of the Rock Cats lease with the city of New Britain approached.
“We explored opportunities both within the state of Connecticut and outside of the state of Connecticut,” owner Solomon said.
For the new stadium, Solomon said he is willing to pay five times as much rent as he’s paying in New Britain, going from about $100,000 a year to half a million.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who has only been in office for seven months, admitted to being blind-sided by the Hartford deal.
“I would think that the ownership would have given me the common courtesy of a personal conversation to at least inform me of the decisions that they are making,” Stewart said.
Stewart said that according to the team’s lease with New Britain, they have until March 1 of next year to officially say if they’re leaving or renewing.
Segarra said on Wednesday that the new stadium would be open in time for opening day in April of 2016 after the New Britian lease has expired.
Mayor Stewart says a lot of things can happen in that amount of time, and that attracting another minor league team to the Hardware City is not out of the question.
“This certainly would be a loss to New Britain, however, I can assure the residents and fans of the New Britain Rock Cats that I will do whatever it takes to keep minor league baseball in the City of New Britain,” Stewart said.