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Opinion: Rock Cats move to Hartford tainted by secrecy and incompetence

Terry Cowgill
Terry Cowgill

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is news editor of The Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.

Distressed municipalities will often turn to anything they think will help with economic development.

Casinos and big-box stores, two Connecticut staples, offer the allure of jobs and increased tax revenues, yet they also come with their own sets of liabilities such as sprawl and assorted social problems. But those endeavors, flawed as they are, are typically financed with private capital and are open to some level of public scrutiny.

Professional sports franchises, on the other hand, often demand and receive taxpayer funds to build stadiums or relocate from ostensibly less desirable cities. Fortunately, they too operate mostly in the open when trying to get a favorable deal from a new host city. Such a level of transparency can benefit both parties as it can apply pressure on politicians to cut a favorable deal. Conversely, a lack of transparency can embolden public officials to simply give away the store.

One of the worst recent examples of a secretive process that got out of hand is right here in Connecticut. A month ago, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced — right out of left field, so to speak — that he would spend up to $60 million to build a 9,000-seat stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats to lure the team to the Capital City.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

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