Hartford baseball stadium a political football

(WTNH/Mark Davis)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Along with the summer spike in crime, Hartford’s baseball stadium project has become a major issue in the upcoming primary election.  

There was a major milestone in the stadium project Tuesday. Construction workers have started putting up the steel beams that will support the grandstand for the $60 million stadium, just two days after the Rock Cats played their final game in New Britain.

“Now that the season is over, everyone is turning their attention to coming to Hartford and the excitement around it,” said Josh Solomon, the owner of the team.

But for Mayor Pedro Segarra, who faces a strong primary election challenge in just two weeks, this project is much more. The primary is, in part, a referendum on his leadership and he has been the absolute lead player on the stadium.

“You might recall that we didn’t have many people hopping at the opportunity to come here, but for the fact that we created what is meant to be a catalyst, a catalyst that has worked in other cities,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra, D-Hartford, at the construction site Tuesday.

Segarra notes that the city planning board is in the process of reviewing other projects for the area, but his challenger, former Malloy aid Luke Bronin, says the stadium project shows poor judgement. 

“Laying off dozens of teachers, at a time when we are 70 officers down at the police department, at a time when unemployment is through the roof; a lot of voters look at this and see an example of misplaced priorities,” he said.

Segarra says that campaign rhetoric is misleading Hartford residents.

“‘Capital dollars’ cannot be used to fund city departments. I want them to understand that in order to accelerate the growth of downtown-north, you needed an accelerator, and this is it,” Segarra said.

The primary election in Hartford, Bridgeport, and 21 other communities is Wednesday, September 16. That is unusual; municipal primaries are usually held on a Tuesday but the 15th is the Jewish holiday so the primary has been moved to Wednesday.

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