Minor League Thinking

I’m working on a longer post about the ways sports teams, giant sporting events and new stadiums fail to meet their expected economic development goals, but I couldn’t wait to tee this one up when it appeared in local news sources.

To get you up to speed: the PawSox, the Red Sox AAA affiliate, have decided to move out of their current stadium in Pawtucket, RI and are shopping for a new stadium in Providence (I can only assume they would become the ProvSox?). The city and state balked when the team laid out the preconditions – $120 million in public funding  and 30 years of property tax exemption on what is likely a plum piece of real estate, in addition to taxpayers bearing the increased infrastructure costs.

Salivating at the prospect that Providence could pass up this horrific deal, some Massachusetts cities are already reserving their place in line. Over the Mayor’s apparent opposition, the New Bedford City Council decided to announce their interest in the team. This prompted this extremely, extremely unfortunate headline in GoLocalWorcester:

Will Worcester Look Bad if New Bedford Ends Up with PawSox?”

To which the answer is already a resounding no, but even more emphatically if the price tag to land them has 9 digits. Anybody who thinks the city looks bad by failing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars that it does not have to furnish team owners’ profit is not someone whose opinion should be regarded highly.

Yikes. There’s some evidence in the article that public officials are finally getting savvier in how they deal with this topic, but you never know what deals are being discussed behind closed doors.

If you find this topic interesting I highly recommend the website Field of Schemes, which has tons of acerbic, hilarious and often depressing writing on the ways sports teams shake down local taxpayers through stadium deals. I really wish there wasn’t enough news to sustain a blog on this topic, but unfortunately there is.