Protesters Rally, Speak Against Hartford Baseball Stadium Proposal

Jul 21, 2014

"We should be working with our neighboring towns, not against them."
Victoria Fennell

About 50 people opposed to plans for a new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford held a march and protest Monday. 

Screaming "Hey, Segarra, you can't hide! We can see your greedy side!," protesters focused their anger on Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. He continues to support a plan to bring the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city, but not everyone does.

Protesters march to city hall.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

On Monday afternoon, a few dozen people marched from the proposed site of the new stadium to city hall. They came to voice their opposition.

Victoria Fennell, one of the speakers, has lived in Hartford's Blue Hills neighborhood since 1969. "I believe one word that comes to mind, among others --but this is a family friendly environment -- is disrespect," she said. "Disrespect by the way the deal was handled. The people of both Hartford and New Britain were disrespected. We should be working with our neighboring towns, not against them."

Leading the march was state Senator Eric Coleman, who is in the midst of a primary battle for that seat with Council President Shawn Wooden. He praised the protesters. "While I commend them and their effort," he said, "I want to caution them that the work is not yet done. The fight has to continue."

Coleman said that is because the details keep changing. First, Segarra said the city would borrow up to $60 million to pay for the stadium. Now, the emphasis is on private funding, not public. 

Victoria Fennell speaks at the protest.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

City Council Minority Leader Larry Deutsch said there is a lot of opposition. "It's quite clear," he said, "that most of the people and most of council reject the idea of taxpayer funding of the stadium."  

As developers hurry to get their plans to build a stadium, and a surrounding neighborhood, to the city by its August 1 deadline, the city council has made a move to hire its own consultant to analyze the deal. That consultant is Fred Carstensen, who runs UConn's Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis.

Segarra said, in a statement, "This is about the redevelopment of the entire Downtown North area, creating jobs for our residents and replacing a sea of parking lots with a thriving, vibrant neighborhood. The ballpark has attracted significant economic interest that has not existed until now. We welcome public input. It’s an important part of the process."