Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty has been vocal about wanting to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to his city if they can’t get a new stadium paid for in their current home, though he’s been noncommittal on the whole “paying to build a stadium thing.” He’s putting at least some money where his mouth is now, though, hiring two consultants to help in his efforts, and look who one of them is:
Economist Andrew Zimbalist and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullan have been hired by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. as consultants for the city’s discussions with the Pawtucket Red Sox over that team’s possible relocation here and construction of a new ballpark in the Canal District.
That’s right, it’s Andy Zimbalist, co-author of one of the best books ever on stadium economics, who has become known for saying that public sports venue funding is a waste of money except for when he’s on payroll to say otherwise. Zimbalist has developed a lucrative ($225 an hour, according to one report) sideline in consulting on these deals, to the point where he once recycled an old report by crossing out “Anaheim” and writing in “Seattle” and then reversing his conclusions; his recent gigs include working for — hey, hang on:
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has hired Andrew Zimbalist, a professor in the Department of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., as a $225-an-hour consultant for the House of Representatives on the proposed relocation of the PawSox from Pawtucket to Providence.
I mean, I guess maybe this isn’t a conflict, if Zimbalist is just helping both Rhode Island and Worcester figure out whether spending money on a PawSox stadium would be worth it, not actively trying to work on their behalf to land the team? Maybe he explained exactly what he was hired to do for Worcester?
Asked about his role in the city’s bid for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Zimbalist replied, “I can’t talk about it.”
If anyone would like to help crowdfund $225 so I can hire Zimbalist for an hour to explain what’s going on here, you know where to find me.