The Boston Red Sox have cut a new deal to lease Yawkey Way — the street outside Fenway Park that they use as an open-air concessions concourse — from the city of Boston on game days. Under the new plan, instead of paying a yearly rent, the Sox will pay $734,000 a year over the next ten years to buy a limited easement on the street, after which it will own the rights and pay nothing.
That’s better for the city than the $186,000 a year that the Sox have been paying, albeit not all that much better, since after the year 2023 they’ll be able to use the street for nothing, forever. And considering that the team brings in an estimated $5 million a year in additional revenues from using the street, $7 million and change over a decade is still a relative pittance.
So, crappy negotiating by Boston Redevelopment Authority director Peter Meade, who’d initially indicated that he’d seek a cut of Red Sox revenues from Yawkey Way, but instead decided to go for the “predictable revenue stream.” There’s some logic in that, but in either case the question is why Meade agreed to give up use of a public street for about 10% of its value to the team — especially when the Red Sox’ only option if Meade demanded more would be to lump it.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino seemed to have that in mind with his statement: “If you’re looking for a short answer to ‘What’s in this for the city?,’ one answer is the preservation of Fenway Park.” So, if Boston had demanded a more equitable lease, the Red Sox were going to what, walk away from their hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations to Fenway and move out of town in a hissy fit over whether to cut the city in on sausage profits? Explain that again, Larry?
“It’s unlikely that if we were not able to make the kind of improvements that these two projects represent that we would have found a viable way to stay there,” Lucchino said.
So, double negative, past tense subjunctive, and we get … I think something involving Lucchino threatening to go back in time and kill his own grandfather. Phew — sure am glad we avoided that!