Courant: Project To Exceed $13 Million; Hartford Foundation To Give $1.7m

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The Hartford Courant reports new details regarding the finances of Dillon Stadium’s renovation. With the project budget now upwards of $13 million, “Hartford Athletic…..and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will contribute as much as $2.7 million to cover cost overruns” while Hartford Sports Group’s Bruce Mandell has pledged to pay up to $1.5 million. According to Bruce, the capital infusion “won’t buy anything flashy — it is meant to keep the basic plans intact.”

In total, “The Hartford Foundation is also putting in $1.2 million to pay for the turf field, along with $500,000 for improvements to Colt Park.”

Hartford Sports Group will also receive an $800,000 loan from the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development. The loan is potentially forgivable contingent on HSG creating “dozens of jobs.” We previously wrote about Bruce’s Big Promises detailing Hartford Sports Group’s unrealistic job creation figures.

Important to note, $2 million of the original $10 million budget was set aside for Colt Park improvements — this money seems to be all but gone.

From our vantage point, this is a classic case of throwing good money after bad. Poor planning has already resulted in a 37.5% cost overrun will no real handle on a total budget. Unfavorable weather, rushed design and potential construction missteps are all foreseeable events that could easily send the project budget closer to $15 or $20 million.

As they were never a part of the original plan, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving were certainly not fully informed before agreeing to such an investment of funds and extension of their credibility. This is no strategic community investment by the Foundation. This is a politically induced bailout; a “too big to fail” moment for Mayor Luke Bronin in an election year.

It was always clear this project plan was concocted without any attachment to reality or industry expertise. As I forecast in my December 9, 2017 editorial, “These ambitious projections are a recipe for disaster and expose the taxpaying public to further subsidize a private enterprise in the future.” We can reasonably assume additional delays and cost overruns — and for taxpayers, in some way, shape or form, to foot the bill.

With the stadium budget a predictable mess, we will inevitably turn our attention to the finances of the team itself. In “Do The Math.”, we discuss the flaws in Hartford Sports Group’s ambitious pro forma.

What happens when the team itself runs out of capital? We are about to find out.

Read the full report from the Hartford Courant here.

TJ ClynchComment