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Polar Park construction manager pays $1.9M over failure to meet minority hiring pledge

In this file photo, a sign stands above a large screen and the left field foul pole at Polar Park, Worcester Red Sox's Triple-A baseball stadium. The company that oversaw the construction of the minor league baseball park in Massachusetts has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle allegations, Dec. 22, 2022, that it failed to live up to its pledge of giving a certain portion of the work on the project to women- and minority-owned businesses. (Elise Amendola/AP File)
In this file photo, a sign stands above a large screen and the left field foul pole at Polar Park, Worcester Red Sox's Triple-A baseball stadium. The company that oversaw the construction of the minor league baseball park in Massachusetts has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle allegations, Dec. 22, 2022, that it failed to live up to its pledge of giving a certain portion of the work on the project to women- and minority-owned businesses. (Elise Amendola/AP File)

The company that oversaw the construction of a minor league baseball park in Massachusetts has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle allegations that it failed to live up to its pledge of giving a certain portion of the work on the project to women- and minority-owned businesses, the state attorney general's office said.

When Gilbane/Hunt submitted its bid for the role of construction manager of Polar Park in Worcester in 2019 it promised to give 20% of the work to women- and minority-owned businesses, the attorney general's office said in a statement Thursday.

But the company misrepresented the status of such businesses on the project, did little to encourage women- and minority-owned businesses, and did not track where the project’s spending on such businesses stood in meeting its goal, the attorney general's office said.

A state investigation sparked by a GBH News report found that Gilbane/Hunt violated the state’s False Claims Act and consumer protection laws, the office said.

“Construction companies in Massachusetts must live up to their promises to create opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses on public projects,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “If a company says that the inclusion of diverse businesses is a priority in an effort to win a public contract, we are going to ensure that they are held accountable for those representations.”

The 9,500-seat stadium in Worcester, built at a cost of about $160 million, is home to the Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Gilbane/Hunt is a joint venture of Gilbane Building Co. of Providence, Rhode Island, and Hunt Construction Group Inc. of Indianapolis.

“While the Gilbane-Hunt joint-venture team fully cooperated with this investigation, we strongly disagree with the allegations and this settlement framework does not include any admission of liability,” the company said in a statement. “The joint venture team is proud of constructing the Polar Park project and our commitment to diversity, inclusion and driving economic opportunity in the community.”

Of the $1.9 million settlement, Worcester will get $500,000 to be used to promote the participation of women- and minority-owned businesses in government contracting, City Manager Eric Batista said in a statement.

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