A proposed Dillon Stadium overhaul for a Hartford NASL team have been halted after the city withdrew a proposed lease with Black Diamond Consulting Group after a newspaper report about debts and a felony conviction connected with ownership.
The plan was for Black Diamond Consulting Group and its subsidiary, Premier Sports Management Group, to redevelop the stadium into an NASL facility for the 2017 season, and in fact two weeks ago a plan was presented to the city for a demolition of Dillon Stadium to make way for a new $12 million, 15,000-seat soccer facility. That was before the Hartford Courant reported on the financials of both firms, leading the city to withdraw from the deal. From the Hartford Courant:
Shortly before the proposal was pulled, council President Shawn Wooden, responding to angry comments from city residents attending the meeting, said he was “frustrated” by the city’s lack of research on the project and its developer.
“Everyone that wants to come forward and to beat up on this body for the fact that our city administration failed in the diligence process — understand that we’re all frustrated,” he said….
Though the project has come to a halt, police and multiple local agencies continue to investigate allegations that the city has been overbilled by Premier Sports Management Group, a subsidiary of Black Diamond. Premier Sports was the sole bidder in 2014 to redevelop Dillon Stadium, with a plan for a 15,000-seat soccer venue, where soccer club Hartford City FC would play beginning in April 2017. The city signed a contract with Premier months later.
The city has paid out $2.1 million for Dillon Stadium work since the contract was signed, but very little work has been done on the project. A police investigation of potential overbilling has been launched.
Dillon Stadium originally was a FERA project (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) and was dedicated in 1935. It seats 9,000 and previously served as home to the Hartford Bicentennials of the original North American Soccer League.
Rendering from Quisenberry Arcari Architects.