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Yes…no...yes to public-financed sports

Former Padres head Lucchino seeks taxpayer funds for baseball team

Larry Lucchino, former president of the Padres, was a driving force in the massive subsidies that built Petco Park and lined John Moores's pockets. Earlier, Lucchino had also loved subsidies when he pushed for a Baltimore stadium.

Larry Lucchino

Then Lucchino became chief executive of the Boston Red Sox. On July 13, 2010, the Wall Street Journal, an enlightened opponent of taxpayer-financed stadiums, ran an editorial lauding the Red Sox for bringing fans to its 100-year-old stadium without taking "a dime of taxpayer money." The team has shown how dishonest the argument for subsidized stadiums is, said the Journal. Then it quoted Lucchino: "We knew the perils of asking for public money," he said." Fans "get annoyed when teams get taxpayers to build a stadium and then raise ticket and concession prices for the very people who paid for it" (which is exactly what the Padres did).

But in late February of this year, Lucchino and some investors bought a minor league team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, an affiliate of the big league Boston team that Lucchino heads. This month, the new owners of the Pawtucket team announced their strategy. They will build an $85 million stadium in Providence, but want a $4 million a yearsubsidy from Rhode Island taxpayers. This would be a gift that keeps on giving. The $4 million would come in every year for 30 years, for a total of $120 million.

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Larry Lucchino, former president of the Padres, was a driving force in the massive subsidies that built Petco Park and lined John Moores's pockets. Earlier, Lucchino had also loved subsidies when he pushed for a Baltimore stadium.

Larry Lucchino

Then Lucchino became chief executive of the Boston Red Sox. On July 13, 2010, the Wall Street Journal, an enlightened opponent of taxpayer-financed stadiums, ran an editorial lauding the Red Sox for bringing fans to its 100-year-old stadium without taking "a dime of taxpayer money." The team has shown how dishonest the argument for subsidized stadiums is, said the Journal. Then it quoted Lucchino: "We knew the perils of asking for public money," he said." Fans "get annoyed when teams get taxpayers to build a stadium and then raise ticket and concession prices for the very people who paid for it" (which is exactly what the Padres did).

But in late February of this year, Lucchino and some investors bought a minor league team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, an affiliate of the big league Boston team that Lucchino heads. This month, the new owners of the Pawtucket team announced their strategy. They will build an $85 million stadium in Providence, but want a $4 million a yearsubsidy from Rhode Island taxpayers. This would be a gift that keeps on giving. The $4 million would come in every year for 30 years, for a total of $120 million.

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Comments
13

"This would be a gift that keeps on giving" just like malaria

April 26, 2015

Murphyjunk: And there are no doubt some hidden subsidies in the deal in addition to the $4 million a year. Best, Don Bauder

April 26, 2015

At least they commit their own money up front, that suggests they might stay in town, and honor the contract. The ink doesn't dry on any contract signed with the Chargers before they demand outrageous revisions, and their bargaining position will only improve when the City is out two billion dollars for an unneeded stadium.

April 26, 2015

Psycholizard: After they got the upgrade of the stadium and the 60,000 seat guarantee in the late 1990s, the Chargers pledged to remain in San Diego until 2020. Shortly, Alex Spanos was demanding a new stadium.

The Chargers had refused to alter one part of the contract, saying, "A deal is a deal." But a deal was no longer a deal when the team began to demand a new stadium, even though it had pledged to stay until 2020. Best, Don Bauder

April 26, 2015

I recall my incredulity when, right on the heels of the stadium remodel, old Alex was talking about how the stadium needed replacing. Sheesh, the remodel was done to placate the old bandit, and rendered it less-than-commodious for baseball games, and his gratitude was expressed by saying that it was STILL inadequate for his wonderful team.

Promises from that Spanos gang are worthless. Any deals they might make for a new stadium here or elsewhere need to be bulletproof, or they'll be back at the complaints and demands within months or years. Be gone with them!

April 27, 2015

Visduh: The city has lost big in dealing with both Moores and the Spanos family. (When San Diego brought in experts to negotiate, Moores got indignant and demanded they be booted out. They were.) The team owners wanted nothing to do with negotiations that were fair to the city and its taxpayers. That's one reason Moores walked off with $700 million to $1 billion from selling land that he got cheap as part of the ballpark deal.

As to "begone!" Good idea, but I think two alternatives have a chance. 1. The Chargers join with Kroenke in Inglewood, although I don't think the Spanos family has much money with which to speculate. However, it might be comforted by the rise in the team's value; 2. The Chargers will remain in San Diego and play at Qualcomm, which might be repaired a bit. However, with probably two teams in L.A., the Chargers will shed a good deal of their followers, including those in Orange and L.A. counties who watch the team on TV or listen on radio. Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2015

This is interesting. Providence supposedly doesn't have enough money to run their budget, and has been essentially shaking down Brown University for funds. I sure hope people do not fall for this mess.

April 26, 2015

eastlaker: Yes, but Rhode Island is notoriously mobbed-up, just as pro sports are. Birds of a feather.....you know. Best, Don Bauder

April 26, 2015

I looked it up. In 2012, the city of Providence got Brown to agree to pay $4 million to the city every year, I believe until a total of $31 million had been paid. The reasoning was that since Brown is a non-profit, it does not pay real estate tax, and this is much less than real estate taxes would be.

So if the city of Providence will be on the hook for $4 million/year to the baseball franchise for this ball field, it sort of looks like Brown is paying for the ball field. In a round-about way.

April 27, 2015

eastlaker: The $4 million a year would come from the state, not the city, although Providence dominates the state.

But in a way, you are right. And you have put your finger on one thing that is deeply wrong with our society. Money is taken from education and given to billionaire or multimillionaire sports team owners. In Wisconsin, the governor wants to take $300 million from the university system and give $200 million to the pro basketball stadium for an arena.

In California, that was the typical way of subsidizing stadiums. The money was taken from education and given to sports team owners as the people applauded. Now that Gov. Brown has killed the redevelopment scam, this caper involves more shifting and dodging. Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2015

This morning, the local New England media reported that Lucchino and friends offered to buy the land for the stadium, instead of leasing it. They also requested a meeting with RI's governor. I'm not sure if this proposal is a plus or a minus for the taxpayers.

April 27, 2015

Jimgee: I made a cursory look for news from Providence and didn't find what you are referencing. If I learn more, I will post it later. My guess is that any change in the proposed deal will likely be a negative for taxpayers. Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2015

Paul Regis: Sorry I am late getting back to you. After a certain length of time, I stop replying to comments on blog items and columns.

Your narrative here is false. I definitely said at that time that I called the news department at the station and confirmed that Channel 10 had stated what I said it had. My source, who saw it on Channel 10, also called the news department and confirmed it. Best, Don Bauder

June 2, 2015

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