(Photo Credit: www.littleballparks.com)
After the New Britain Rock Cats, a team in the MiLB Double A Eastern League, announced its move to Hartford, CT for the 2016 season, it appeared as though their baseball stadium and the town which has been home to baseball for over 30 years could be left without a professional baseball team.
However, that wasn’t the case for very long. We now know that the Atlantic League will be fielding a team in New Britain. We just aren’t sure which one.
On Wednesday September 23rd, the New Britain Common Council unanimously approved to lease the stadium to the Atlantic League starting on January 1st. The contract, which still needs to be formally passed by the league, is for a 15 year lease which will bring $150,000 per year in rent for the city.
The Hartford Courant reported that:
The new lease pays New Britain about $50,000 more in annual rent, but assigns parking revenue — worth an estimated $100,000 a year — to the team instead of the city. However, the city will get 10 percent of parking charges, as well as 10 percent of revenue from any renaming of New Britain Stadium, according to city hall.
The city has also set aside money for renovations to the ballpark that include painting and replacing the bleachers.
But since the Atlantic League isn’t looking to expand their eight-team league in time for next season, one team must be relocated to New Britain. The Riversharks’ lease is currently up in Camden, New Jersey, and The Atlantic League and the city have only two weeks left of negotiations to keep the franchise there. If an agreement isn’t reached, the Riversharks will be relocated to New Britain.
If the Riversharks and Camden do reach an agreement, the Atlantic League has a big decision on their hands. One of the other seven teams will have to move to fulfill the lease in New Britain.
“Either way, we’ll be playing in New Britain in April,” Atlantic League founder Frank Boulton told the Hartford Courant.
Once it has been decided just what team will be playing in New Britain, which according to the league should be made public some time in October, the city will provide office space at city hall for the team to begin their marketing campaign and season ticket sales.