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The Colorado Rockies Double-A affiliate Hartford Yard Goats will play 52 straight road games to begin the 2016 season.
The Rockies changed their Double-A affiliation from the Texas League’s Tulsa Drillers to the Eastern League’s New Britain Rock Cats during the 2014-15 offseason. At the time, a major positive for the Rockies change was that the Rock Cats would be moving to Hartford and would be getting a brand new stadium in 2016. The soon to be opened home of the Yard Goats (Dunkin’ Donuts Park) will cost over $50 million and is a part the larger $400 million redevelopment plan called Downtown North (DoNo) in Hartford, CT.
The project for the stadium is about $10 million over budget and the city and team are working on a solution for the budget gap. The only thing known for sure at the moment is that the Rockies Double-A affiliate won’t play a true home game until at least May 31.
“Whatever the number (of games) is,” Colorado Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich said. “The Biloxi (Shuckers) did it last year and they survived, they won the whole darn thing. We could sit here and complain about it but where does that get you? We’ll deal with it, we’ll make the absolute best of it like Biloxi did, and we’ll learn lessons from them. They obviously handled it well in a lot of different areas, so we’ll take lessons from that and make the most of it. Long term, we hope to be there in a brand new stadium and move forward with that organization. Everything that we understand about them is that they are quality organization. So this is just a moment in time. It affects one part of one season, we’ll move forward.”
Bridich was referencing the epic 54 game road trip the Biloxi Shuckers of the Southern Leauge made last year. The Brewers’ Double-A affiliate also had problems with construction delays on their new stadium last season. They would go on to win the south division of the Southern Leauge in 2015.
“I’m sure if you talk to the Bolix players and the Biloxi staff, without putting words in their mouth, they found out a lot about themselves last year,” Bridich told the media at Fanfest. “We have an opportunity for our kids and our guys involved in the situation to find out a lot about themselves.”
It will undoubtedly be a challenge for the Rockies as Double-A is arguably the most important level in the minors. If Bridich is right and the players performing in Double-A this season do learn a lot about themselves, it will be a huge positive for the Rockies, who have many high talented prospects that could play at the level in 2016.