Sports

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City of Hartford

The ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $56 million minor league baseball stadium in Hartford happened Tuesday. The park for the New Britain Rock Cats has to be completed in just over a year.

The effort build a minor league baseball stadium began last June, when Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced a plan to build the stadium in the city. He called it a done deal, though it was anything but.

The next series of months saw the fundamentals of the proposal change several times over. What began as a stadium project is now a $350 million development to remake an entire neighborhood.

Think you have a knack for names?

The folks behind minor league baseball in the city of Hartford want you to try your hand at naming an entire team. The only catch: the name has to include the word "Hartford."

City of Hartford

The city of Hartford has reached an agreement with the developer of its new $56 million baseball stadium and with the team owners of the Rock Cats.

The revised development plan with DoNo Hartford LLC calls for improvements to the Downtown North neighborhood that would include a supermarket of up to 50,000 square feet, a brewery, housing, stores, and restaurants. The development agreement also includes hiring preferences for Hartford residents and minority or women-owned business in building the stadium.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for February 17.

London Mayor Bullish On Boston Olympics

Feb 11, 2015

The snowy weather and public transportation gridlock have taken some of the steam out of a visit to Boston by London Mayor Boris Johnson. But while in the area, the mayor managed to make a pitch for Boston moving forward with its bid to host the Olympics.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

The city of Hartford has executed agreements with the developer of a baseball stadium and the owner of the minor league New Britain Rock Cats, according to bond documents provided to investors.

But you can’t see them -- not yet, anyway.

Last week, we asked the city to see any executed agreements between it and either the developer, DoNo Hartford LLC, or the team owner, Connecticut Double Play LLC.  The city denied that request, saying it was holding the documents "in escrow until all negotiations are resolved."  Typically, executed contract documents are not exempt from disclosure.  (A clarification: We formally asked to inspect the documents with the developer; we only inquired as to the status of the agreements with the team's owners.  We got no response on the latter.)

Men's basketball coach Dean Smith, who coached the University of North Carolina Tar Heels for more than 35 years, taking them to two national titles, has died at age 83.

The Hall of Famer died Saturday night at his home, his family said in a statement released today.

"We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you," the statement said.

mrceder / Creative Commons

Just days after it was established and as a blizzard targeted the state, the Hartford Stadium Authority met, chose its officers, and approved tens of millions in borrowing that will allow the city to build a minor league baseball stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats.

The meeting was held last week. The sale of the bonds is apparently next week, and all eyes will be on what investors will charge the authority for its money.

Meanwhile, the city says negotiations are ongoing between it and the developer DoNo Hartford LLC.  A document provided to the stadium authority suggests that an agreement between the city and the baseball team has already been signed.

City of Hartford

A vocal opponent of Hartford's baseball stadium effort is taking issue with last week's city council meeting -- the one that was held as a blizzard approached.

City hall was closed, there was a parking ban, the governor had declared a state of emergency, and police wanted folks off the roads. But the city council nevertheless went ahead and held its meeting to approve the Hartford Stadium Authority.

DoNo Hartford LLC

With the first pitch for the New Britain Rock Cats just 14 months away, Hartford's plan to turn an empty lot into a minor league baseball stadium is moving forward. 

Contract documents between the developer DoNo Hartford LLC and the city could be signed as early as Wednesday.

"There is a pretty fair chance that we'll be signing documents tomorrow, but certainly by the end of this week they will be executed," said Bob Landino, a principal with DoNo. He added that a groundbreaking will likely happen by February 11 or sooner. "We're pretty much on schedule." 

Michael Marsland / Yale University

The head referee at Sunday night’s Super Bowl was on the field with the help of a Yale University surgeon. NFL referee Bill Vinovich suffered a life-threatening heart injury in 2006 which prevented him from doing his job. 

Four years later, he turned to Dr. John Elefteriades, who is the director of the Aortic Institute at Yale New Haven Hospital. In his book Extraordinary Hearts, Elefteriades wrote a chapter about the football referee. 

Vinovich explained that his family was his "first love," and beyond that was football and his job as a head referee. He also explained that his life had no meaning without that work, and he "would do anything to be able to return to that work." 

They promised that Super Bowl XLIX would be a close contest, and we got what was promised. The final score was 28-24.

At halftime, it was two touchdowns each. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that New England caught a decisive momentum that set the stage for the rest of the game.

In the end, it was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman late in the fourth — and Seattle's stumble, allowing an interception with seconds remaining — that pushed the game decisively New England's way.

The Connecticut Mirror

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is running for his second full term this year, and a lot of people are looking to unseat him. One is Luke Bronin, the governor's former legal counsel; another is attorney John Gale; and a third is city Councilman Joel Cruz.

Another day, another controversy.

It's been that kind of a year for the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell talked about it all on Friday at his annual State-of-the-League address in downtown Phoenix.

Deb West / Flickr Creative Commons

On the Nose this hour: pre-watching Super Bowl ads.

Super Bowl advertisers have forced us (conned us?) to live in their world, not just for Sunday, but for days spreading in either direction. This piece explains how, in 2011, a VW ad was released on the YouTube's days in advance of the game and went viral, setting the stage for what we have now: a protracted debate about various ads. You probably have to, on YouTube, sometimes watch an ad so you can watch an ad.

Today, that 2011 ad has 61 million views on YT. Those are people volunteering to watch it, as opposed to people waiting for the game to resume.

New England Patriots' Head Coach Bill Belichick defended his team and quarterback Tom Brady against accusations of cheating amid the so-called "Deflategate" controversy that erupted last weekend when underinflated footballs were used in

Fat Bikes: The Winter Sport Of The Future?

Jan 24, 2015

On a snowy December afternoon, I dropped by the Onion River Sports shop in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. Kip Roberts, who  manages the store, said that two years ago, fat bikes went from an oddity to a hot item.

“It exploded, and we couldn’t get our hands on them quick enough,” Roberts said. “And that growth happened all across the country. Almost everyone that’s a major bicycle company has a fat bike now. And some of them have multiple models.”

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 23.

Two former World Wrestling Entertainment fighters are suing the company, alleging that it ignored signs of brain damage and injuries.

The lawsuit, dated Jan. 16, was filed by Vito "Big Vito" LoGrasso and Evan Singleton, who wrestled under the name "Adam Mercer."

The suit alleges that LoGrasso has sustained serious neurological damage as a result of wrestling. He says he has headaches, memory loss, depression and hearing impairment. Singleton also says he has tremors, convulsions and migraines.

When the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots meet in the 2015 Super Bowl on Feb. 1, the broadcast booth will be anchored by a man who has done the play-by-play for eight previous Super Bowls. Al Michaels, the announcer for NBC's Sunday Night Football, knows how to put emotion into his broadcasts.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick says he had "no knowledge" about the controversy surrounding his team and deflated footballs.

"In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure," he said in an opening statement at a news conference today.

Belichick added that he had "no knowledge of this situation until Monday morning."

Even with free agency, our professional leagues show a reliable sort of sameness from year to year. Oh sure, each season there are a few teams that surprise, but mostly, changes in the standings are evolutionary. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a league that looks so cockeyed as the NBA is this year.

First of all, it's just plain weird to see the two historically glamorous franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, both down near the bottom of the standings, while up top are teams that previously were nondescript also-rans.

Dave Worley / Creative Commons

The Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2014 is vape. I can get behind that. It's a word that describes something a lot of people are doing and it really did come of age in the last 12 months. The American Dialect Society, not so much. Their controversial word of the year is #blacklivesmatter, which is not a word or even close to being one word.

Did the New England Patriots tamper with the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game? The NFL is asking that question, after the host Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in rainy conditions Sunday.

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