Hartford is a city plagued with a variety of public policy problems — not least the misuse of city funds and other financial mismanagement. And it’s afflicted by a host of urban ills — including a poverty rate second only to Detroit (as of 2012) and the highest unsolved homicide rate (45%) of New England’s seven largest cities.
Keeping all this in mind, ask yourself: If Hartford weren’t, in fact, broke and actually had $60 million dollars to spend, would those funds be best used to construct a new stadium — for a minor league baseball team to move a scant 12 miles down the road?
Are . . .you . . .kidding?!
Sadly enough, no. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and the owner of the New Britain Rock Cats have struck a deal to bring the team from New Britain to Hartford, on the condition that the city (using government, i.e., taxpayer, money) builds a new $60 million stadium. (They’d better not be counting on embittered former fans from New Britain to fill all those expensive new seats!).
And in point of fact, funds for the $60 million stadium probably wouldn’t actually come just from city taxpayers, given that without even incurring any new expenses, Hartford already collects a generous helping of state funds just to operate — almost half its city budget’s worth.
And recall that, in recent years, Connecticut has witnessed the unsavory spectacle of state money being used to subsidize other intra-state moves. Is there any serious doubt that this unhappy experience could well be repeated, given that the agreement between the Rock Cats and Hartford’s mayor leaves the door wide open for city officials to seek state funds?
The governor insists that the state was not involved in discussions about the move. Fair enough. Now it’s time to ask him and all our state officials — along with every candidate for a state office — to pledge that state tax money — our money — won’t be blown on a(nother) $60 million government boondoggle.