As Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello suggested back in October, the state legislature is revising its proposal for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium to cut down on the $38 million in taxpayer subsidies that were in the initial plan. The new provisions:
- The team would split naming-rights revenue 50-50 with the city, instead of keeping it all itself.
- The amount of stadium bonds would be increased from $71 million to $85 million (since the initial bond estimate failed to take into account things like paying the bond lawyers), with the team now paying off $41 million and the city and state $44 million.
This doesn’t exactly sound like a worse deal for the team — the extra $6 million in public cost would almost eat up any of the new naming-rights money at the going rates for such things — but I guess the PawSox owners were counting on the public getting stuck with all of those bond financing costs, because they declared themselves “concerned” over the new provisions:
The PawSox, with the overwhelming majority contribution of $45 million, the commitment of 30 years, and the responsibility of ballpark construction cost overruns, are taking the most significant and likely risks to ensure that this once-in-a-generation project comes to fruition for Rhode Island.
We hope we can keep the PawSox in Pawtucket, and we have offered unprecedented private funds to do so.
I am so trying this move the next time I engage in salary negotiations: “I’m taking the most significant risk here! I hope to remain with this company, and I am making an unprecedented offer to do so! Now, can I have $44 million, please?”
In very related news, the Worcester Business Journal interviewed a bunch of stadium experts (including me) about how much Worcester should offer to put up to lure the PawSox to that town, and came up with the conclusion “not much.” (Holy Cross economist Victor Matheson, who is pictured in a lovely photo tossing a baseball in the air, figured $5-10 million was a reasonable maximum.) The best line, though, goes to University of New Haven business professor Gil Fried, who after noting that the economic impact of a stadium is about the same as that of a Walmart, had this to say about stadium economic impact studies:
An economic study conducted for Pawtucket and the PawSox found a proposed $76-million stadium would pay for itself through new revenue…
Those studies – often paid for by officials wanting to justify building a stadium – have their detractors.
“Those things are a piece of junk,” said Fried.
You said it, pal.