The Boston Red Sox had previously announced plans to expand their bullpens and move in the right-field wall as part of ongoing renovations to Fenway Park, but that piece was abruptly put on hold today, after the Massachusetts Historical Commission ruled that it would jeopardize state historic represervation tax credits that the Sox are receiving for the project.
The article in the Boston Herald isn’t especially clear, but here’s what I’ve been able to figure out from looking at the regs and a conversation with a preservation expert:
- Starting in around 2006, the Red Sox have been applying for state tax credits from a pool designated for historic preservation projects. (Eligible projects can have up to 20% of their costs paid for by the state.) They’ve received $11.1 million so far, and are seeking an additional $28.4 million.
- To get historic preservation credits, needless to say, you need to be doing historic preservation. The state commission ruled that moving the fences in from their historic distances so that relief pitchers could have more elbow room wouldn’t qualify as “preservation” — and so would jeopardize the entire $39.5 million that the Sox are looking to get.
- Sox execs, needless to say, dropped the bullpen plan like a hot rock.
What’s still not clear is whether, once the Sox have all their tax credits in hand (presumably within the next year, since this is the last round of announced renovations), they can then go about doing whatever they want to to the bullpens, regardless of what the state thinks. The state regs say that “The taxpayer must retain the property for five years beginning on the date on which the project has been completed, or else the credit is subject to recapture,” but they don’t say whether “retain” means retain ownership, or retain the property in its historically preserved state.
A Sox spokesperson told the Herald that the bullpen redo “is still on our radar screen” but “there is no immediate timetable for this project.” So if I’m reading between the lines properly, it sounds like they don’t know how it works, either, but they’re darn sure going to find out.