Stadium Tax Plan has Lawmakers Crying “Foul Ball” [WTNH]

April 20, 2015


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s more controversy surrounding the new baseball stadium being built in Hartford so the New Britain Rock Cats can move in and become the Yard Goats.

Construction has been underway for weeks on the northern edge of downtown Hartford for the $60 million baseball stadium, expected to be completed by opening day next year. While that’s been going on, a bill to divert state tax dollars to help pay for it has been quietly moving at the State Capitol.

The proposal would use the state tax on the tickets to events at the new stadium to help pay off the loans required to get the stadium built. That is setting off alarms at the State Capitol, where lawmakers are struggling to find every possible penny of state tax revenue to fund state programs because of the projected deficits.

“The Governor made a pledge to the state, to the people, that no tax dollars would be used for the stadium,” said Senator Len Fasano, R-North Haven, the State Senate Minority Leader. “This is a stadium in Hartford; (it) does not belong on the backs of the taxpayers.”

But those in favor of this point out that it would only be people attending events at the stadium that would be paying the tax dedicated to the stadium, called tax incremental financing.

Republicans are not the only ones crying foul ball, as some Democrats also are seeing red.

“My constituents in New Britain particularly have been very upset over the handling of this,” said Senator Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain.

New Britain residents are still smarting over the secret deal to take the baseball team away from the Hardware City, and that’s not the only reason.

“We had, in our delegation a few years ago had, asked for the same arrangement for the Rock Cats and we were refused,” added Gerratana.

“No one’s talked to me about it, I want to be very clear,” said Governor Malloy, seeming to dismiss the idea. “It’s not something I’ve proposed. Lots of things get proposed by legislators. Lots of them never see the light of day.”

The stadium is shaping up to be a major issue in the upcoming race for Mayor of Hartford as the the city is somewhat divided over the issue and the way it’s been handled.