Yard Goats, Centerplan In Courtroom Slugfest

(CBS Connecticut) — The arguments turned heated today, during a pretrial hearing in a lawsuit brought by the original developers of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, against the Hartford Yard Goats.

The two sides accused each other of being ‘incredibly bad’ and using ‘alternative facts’.

A lawyer for developer Centerplan, Raymond Garcia, accused the minor league baseball team of intentionally getting the city to put expensive, time-consuming changes into the stadium’s design.

The developer’s lawyer said the team backed out of a later agreement to contribute $2-million to cover cost over-runs and get the project moving again.  Hartford contributed much of the rest of he $10-million dollars needed to get the project moving again at that point.

Garcia said the team knew it had the city in a tough spot because it needed to get the project done.

“[The team] was just being… And I am having a hard time finding the right words not to get in trouble… Incredibly bad,” Garcia said. “This was way beyond a fussy client.”

“Their right field does not even meet minor league standards,” Garcia said. “They have 40 seats on the right field line that do not see home plate.”

But an attorney for the Yard Goats, Tony Sbarra, Jr.  said he was ‘absolutely flabbergasted’ at the developers’ lawyer’s used of ‘alternative facts’.

“I’m not sure we are even working on the same case,” Sbarra said.

“Nothing he said bears any relationship to what actually happened  with this ballpark,” Sbarra said. “Mr. Garcia is spinning tales.”

Sbarra accused Centerplan and its DoNo Hartford affiliate of creating ‘a mess’ when it worked on the project.

“DoNo did not know what they were doing,” Sbarra said.

The team’s attorney accused the developers of being behind from day 1, and telling the city everything was on schedule when it was not.

“They have decided to try to make a dupe of Josh Solmon because he is an absentee owner,” Sbarra said.

As the back-and-forth continued between the two lawyers, the judge held his hands over his head in the shape of the letter ‘T’ and said ‘Timeout!’

Judge David Sheridan said the heated arguments seemed to be for an audience other than himself.  The only person in the gallery watching the hearing was a reporter for WTIC.

Sbarra later apologized to the judge for his outburst.  Earlier he said that when you get punched in the face so many times, you have to respond.

There were cost over-runs and delays on Dunkin’ Donuts Park while Centerplan worked on the project.  The Yard Goats played all of their home games elsewhere last season.

The Yard Goat’s first game in the long-delayed stadium is Thursday.

A college game between the University of Hartford and Quinnipiac will be played there tomorrow.

The underlying legal issues in the hearing involved which arguments should be allowed in future filings and at trial.

The trial is almost a year away, as currently scheduled.

The stadium was completed after a new construction company was brought in to run the project.

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