RI house speaker kills PawSox subsidy bill again, for silly reason that everybody hates it

Ever since the Rhode Island state senate approved $44 million in state and city subsidies for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium a couple of weeks back, the big question has been how the bill would fare in the state house, which killed the last version of the bill. So how’s that going?

The plan to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island is “dead,” according to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello...

“The Senate bill is dead in the state of the Rhode Island. Two-thirds of Rhode Islanders do not support it and therefore, the House will not support it,” Mattiello said.

That sounds pretty dead!

The current PawSox stadium funding plan, you’ll recall, involves the state putting up $26 million and the city $18 million toward an $83 million stadium; in return, the city would get $250,000 a year in naming rights fees and unspecified cash from a surcharge on premium tickets — which I can’t imagine would amount to all that much, since minor-league ticket buyers aren’t known for their eagerness to sit in luxury boxes. All this for a team that you could just up and buy for about $20 million. It is an awful deal, and those two-thirds of Rhode Island voters have good reason to hate it.

The only argument for the deal is hinted at in the source of the above quoted text, which is from the Worcester Telegram, which is covering the story because the PawSox owners have threatened to move to Worcester if they don’t get their way in Rhode Island. Worcester has done absolutely nothing to offer the PawSox a stadium or money for one, though, beyond hiring economist-for-hire Andy Zimbalist as a consultant (which Mattiello also did in Rhode Island, weirdly). So offering $44 million as an inducement to stay to a team whose threat of moving so far comes down to “maybe this is really more of a Shelbyville idea” would be the epitome of bidding against yourself. It would be totally reasonable negotiating for Mattiello to come back with “How about we only put up $10 million, or better yet, you actually pay us enough rent so the public can recoup all of its stadium debt?” and see what happens; we’ll see if that’s the route he goes.

Finally, I can’t leave out my absolute favorite part of the Telegram article:

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, PawSox supporters are going into the heart of Mattiello’s home district in Cranston on Tuesday to pitch their stadium-financing deal.

“You’re invited!″ said the mailer that arrived over the weekend at homes across skeptic Mattiello’s House District 15. “Learn more about the Ballpark at Slater Mill … and enjoy some Tommy’s Pizza.”

Locally sponsored stadium propaganda. Isn’t that just the best thing about minor-league baseball?


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