Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PawSox to Providence (Paws on Taxpayer Dollars)

Pawtucket PawSox (International League Logo)

The Pawtucket Red Sox, with their cuddly white bears and brimming mitts, bring some fun and frolic to an otherwise depressed and unhappy state.  A good friend of mine texted to me some full-on photos of the Boston Bruins, front row and center, but  A ball game is a ball of fun, if you like that sort of thing. I am not a baseball fan, myself (football first, then basketball, if the Celtics are playing), but any sport that makes the residents happy, or at least helps them take their mind off their troubles: that cannot be a bad thing.

The Red Sox got a new owner, too, and he has some welcome ideas to bring the AAA franchise, a second-string for the Boston Red Sox when they need a hitter in a pinch.

He wants to move the Sox (and Paws, the male mascot, plus Sox, the female) to Providence.

Why? So that Buddy can try for a home run, since he couldn’t win the mayor’s seat in his adopted home town? No: the franchise owners want to set up a new stadium, like McCoy field, a popular forum for  watching or playing. Sounds like a winning idea, since any business, including a sports franchise, would bring some welcome economic development and relief from Rhode Islanders’ tough times.

However, there’s a catch:

Team owners are seeking a state lease to pay for the cost of the stadium, with the state of Rhode Island paying $4 million annually to club over a 30-year period, according to the Boston Globe. An economic impact study estimated that visitors to the ballpark would contribute $12.5 million to the local economy each year.

The stadium would cost $85 million to build, yet the owners want the state to pay $120 million over thirty years.

They can count nine innings, they can tally the number of parking spots:

On Wednesday the group officially unveiled plans to build an $85 million, 10,000-seat multipurpose stadium in downtown Providence. The proposed park, situated on the banks of the Providence River, would feature a 750-car parking garage and a Riverwalk area outside the stadium.

One comment, from Jeff Fowler on the article deserves a second glance:

If there was any good reason to move the PawSox out of Pawtucket, which there is not, I would want a Green Monster in Left field as the trademark of Red Sox fields in Boston and Winter Haven. Tell me how this 750 car parking garage will accommodated the fans that will sit in 10,000 seats again? Then the tax payer money is another downer. Are your taxes tooo low in Providence?

Strike One: There is little evidence, or hope for that matter, that any state or municipal governments will have that kind of money. Now  the planning is already in question. The architectural minds behind this project apparently failed to consider the long-term consequences of New England’s frequent, heavy, and damaging snow storms, or population for that matter.
38 Studios went bust. Does Providence want another failed game franchise?

Strike Two: Rhode Islanders have been played time and again by outside interests looking for inside help. Not just the black market or the Mafia, but even decent, honest investment pitches. Remember 38 Studios? The video game company, the brainchild of Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling was supposed to bring in the business and promote a tech base for future economic development. After the state floated a $75 million loan, which every ray of the ideological spectrum opposed during Election 2010, the company would falter on its payments, later default, then fall into bankruptcy. The loan remains a moral obligation on the state, and the current chief executive, Gina Raimondo, decided to keep paying, even though the majority of residents rejected the company’s failure.

Chafee called the company “Junk”, and the investors have pulled the plug. The adults in the room (the two Republicans running for Governor last year) said “Don’t pay”. Now, the PawSox have the sand to ask Rhode Island to do the same for their stadium? Why not invest in a baseball video game, and make the whole crony capitalist trifecta complete?
Rep. Doreen Costa

Before Rep. Doreen Costa (R-Kingston) could call foul, she got a series of calls herself:

After the proposal was announced, it was met with immediate backlash from some lawmakers, including state Rep. Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown.

“Just yesterday when this hit the news, I got 14 calls within five minutes of this breaking from taxpayers. Not only in my district, from the entire state. From Pawtucket to Woonsocket to Westerly that are saying ‘Rep. Costa, we cannot do this,'” she said.

Does Costa want to play umpire on this bad idea? How about throwing the whole crowd out of the park before a brawl starts. Someone must have bean-balled the investors to think that taxpayers will let a group of private interests put their paws on taxpayer dollars. Then again, recent reports suggest that PawSox affiliates have been corking their bats, donating to elected officials. Money: the steroids of state politics.

Raimondo bunted:

I’d certainly like to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island, it’s an important part of Rhode Island culture. Money is tight, so I look forward to getting into the details of the proposal and making sure we do the right thing.

Jim Skeffington, the new owner, played coy:

“We’ve had overtures from four other cities, and I tell them we only have plan A, which is to stay in Rhode Island. Yes, there are other opportunities, but we’re going to do what we can to reach common accord with our citizens of Rhode Island and stay here.

Another sources suggested that the PawSox want to leave, but do so graciously, making it seem as though they wanted to stay, but couldn’t for lack of funding. “Cheap Smith Hill legislators!” The owners are playing Pickle, looking to slide into home for the best deal, letting the state pay the bill.

My call on this whole debacle? Let’s call the whole thing off!

Strike Three: You’re Out!

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