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With park behind schedule, Goats hit road

Hartford home games through May 8 to be played at opponents' parks
January 12, 2016

The Hartford Yard Goats will start their inaugural campaign with an extended road trip.

The Yard Goats -- Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies -- relocated to Hartford after spending the past 33 seasons in nearby New Britain. Construction on Dunkin' Donuts Park, their city-funded downtown Hartford home, is running behind schedule. The Yard Goats' will play their first 17 scheduled home games of the season at their opponent's ballpark, competing as the away team. This, combined with the team's regularly scheduled road games, will result in a road trip of 34 games to start the season.

The changes to the schedule were announced by the Eastern League on Tuesday afternoon. The Yard Goats' first five series of the season, encompassing three homestands, will now be played elsewhere. These include games against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (April 7-10), New Hampshire Fisher Cats (April 11-13), Portland Sea Dogs (April 21-24), Harrisburg Senators (April 25-27) and New Hampshire Fisher Cats again (May 6-8).

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The Yard Goats home opener at Dunkin' Donuts Park is now scheduled for May 12 vs. the Fisher Cats. In Tuesday's press release, the Eastern League reported that it "will continue to monitor the situation and will make further decisions regarding the Hartford schedule as additional information becomes available regarding the availability of Dunkin' Donuts Park."

Construction on Dunkin' Donuts Park is stalled due to cost overruns, as the facility is approximately $10 million over its projected $56 million budget. This has led to disagreements between the city and the developer, Centerplan, regarding how to proceed.

The upcoming season marks the third straight season in which a new Minor League ballpark has not open on schedule. In 2014 the El Paso Chihuahuas started the season with a 23-game road trip while waiting for Southwest University Park to be completed. The following year, the Biloxi Shuckers played 54 games on the road as construction was completed on MGM Park.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.