By: Kels Dayton and Mark Davis, WTNH Chief Political Correspondent
(WTNH)–There may be baseball in New Britain post-Yard Goats, after all.
On Tuesday, mayor Erin Stewart told News 8 that the city and the independent Atlantic League have finalized the first part of a lease agreement that could bring a team to New Britain as early as 2016.
“Over the last six months, we’ve been speaking with the Atlantic League about either relocating a team, or starting a new team in New Britain,” Stewart said.
She said the first part of a lease agreement had been agreed upon, and that it is now subject to the approval of the Atlantic League Board of Directors and the New Britain City Council.
“We’re crossing our fingers for board approval, and then we’ll move forward from there with whatever changes they suggest.”
Stewart said the city immediately invested $500,000 in stadium improvements after the Rock Cats announced their decision to move to Hartford in March.
“There’s been no shortage of interest in the stadium,” Stewart said back in April. “I want good family-friendly baseball in New Britain, and I’m going to do what I can to make sure that stays.”
If New Britain does get an Atlantic League team, it would create a nice rivalry with the in-state Bridgeport Bluefish.
The Atlantic League currently has eight teams, in Bridgeport, Camden, N.J., Lancaster, Pa., Long Island, Somerset, N.J., Southern Maryland, York, Pa., and Sugar Land, Texas.
It plays a 140-game schedule from April to late September.
“You’ve got a built-in base of families that are used to going to that stadium and having a good time,” Stewart said. “We want to replicate what has been going well.”