NEW BRITAIN – New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart and the New Britain Bees have assured the next few summers will continue to have baseball in the Hardware City.
Stewart announced through a Facebook post on Monday morning the city and the Bees have agreed on a five-year extension for the team’s lease at New Britain Stadium, where the Bees have called home since taking over after the New Britain Rock Cats left for Hartford prior to the 2016 season.
“The city is glad to have the Bees here as they continue to bring family fun and the love of baseball to our community,” Stewart said in her post announcing the news.
For both sides, the move felt like a no-brainer, keeping summer baseball in New Britain where it served as a minor return to normalcy this past year, when the Bees began their first season as a part of the Futures League while other leagues were shut down due to covid-19.
“It’s a great facility and it’s one of the premier facilities in all of summer collegiate baseball,” Bees general manager Brad Smith said. “It’s a great stadium for our business model. Mayor Stewart always wanted us here and we always wanted to be here, so it was a perfect situation. In a situation like this when both parties are very happy and it’s good for both parties, it made for easier talks.”
New Britain Stadium was held to limited capacity this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the team was still able to complete a shortened season to begin its new era after leaving the Atlantic League after the 2019 season. But the first game of the 2020 season was a sellout in terms of tickets that were available, and the Bees hope their first year under their new lease will be a much normal season that will allow for more fans to celebrate baseball staying in New Britain.
“It’s great relief, but it’s more excitement,” Smith said. “Opening up year one in the middle of a pandemic…even in those tough times fan support was great, and we could really see that the summer collegiate model is going to work in NB in this beautiful stadium. We’re looking forward to a great 2021. Hopefully things start to subside and we can continue to grow.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org