HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Hartford Yard Goats open their season Friday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. They are hoping it is back to normal after COVID-19 clouded the last two seasons.
“This year we’re opening up, we’re 100% capacity, no requirements, we’re doing all the same protocols that we did last year. We’re a cashless venue… A lot of our programming is digital… additional cleaning procedures that we have at the ballpark,” said Tim Restall, Hartford Yard Goats president.
While crews are working hard inside the park, there are now buildings, apartments and shopping just across the street.
“This is what happens when the private sector and the public sector get together and really have common goals. I think we’ve leaned on each other and it’s great to see the success,” Josh Solomon, Yard Goats owner said.
If you have not been to Hartford in a year, it looks a lot different. Phase 1 of development is wrapping up, they are getting ready for Phase 2 and they have secured funding for Phase 3.
“We are not trying to isolate the communities from the downtown. It’s important that we connect it to the north end of Hartford so we are creating this connection,” Hartford Councilman Nick Lebron said.
They are going to expand out toward Albany Avenue and bring everyone together as they revitalize some of the historic buildings that have been blighted during past years.
“The Arrowhead Café, the Flatiron building that has been vacant and blighted for years, those are going to be brought back to life as residential buildings, as mixed-use development that helps to knit our neighborhoods back together,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.
“I actually grew up around this area, this is the north end of Hartford here. My family, my grandmother owned the bodega across the street a long time ago, so it’s just wonderful to see how the community has sprouted up,” Lebron said.
Leaders are also reflecting on the dedication the Yard Goats have had to the community during the pandemic.
“This was a place where thousands of people got tested, where thousands of people got vaccinated, but the reason we built this ballpark was so that we could have thousands of fans coming in to watch some great baseball and have a lot of fun,” Bronin said. “I’m excited that that’s going to start up again tomorrow night.”