- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - A deal has been reached to replace the minor league baseball team that New Britain is losing to Hartford with a franchise from the independent Atlantic League.

Mayor Erin Stewart and the league announced a tentative deal Tuesday that would put an expansion team in New Britain or relocate an existing franchise from the eight-team league to the city for the 2016 season.

“Considering that the Rock Cats played their final home game (Sunday), for us to receive this news today is just huge for this City and for fans and families across Connecticut who love coming to New Britain Stadium and having the time of their lives,” Stewart said.

The two sides still need to complete negotiations on a lease for New Britain Stadium and final contract would need approval from the league’s board of directors and city officials.

“We still have work to do but are very encouraged by our discussions with the city and the hearty reception Central Connecticut has given to keeping professional baseball in New Britain,” said Atlantic League Founder Frank Boulton. “We look forward to continued progress and are hopeful this will happen in short order.”

The New Britain Rock Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, is scheduled to begin play next spring in a new stadium in Hartford as the Yard Goats.

The Atlantic League already has one franchise in Connecticut, the Bridgeport Bluefish, and has other teams in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Texas.

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