There’s another aspect of the Worcester’s PawSox gain that Rhode Islanders haven’t spent much time discussing, and it is visible in the reporting of Ethan Epstein in The Weekly Standard (emphasis added):
But the PawSox owners announced that the next two years they play at McCoy will be their last. Roughly three years ago, they announced their plans to vacate McCoy. Pawtucket, Providence, and Worcester jockeyed for position. The owners played the competitors against each other masterfully, and in the end, Worcester evidently made the team an offer it couldn’t refuse: It will build a new $90 million stadium and apartment complex. The state of Massachusetts is fronting $35 million; and “the city of Worcester is expected to borrow $100 million, some of which would be repaid by the team,” the Providence CBS affiliate reported. The deal required no input from the state legislature, and was put together in secret. The only apparent cost to the PawSox is that they will now known by the unfortunate moniker “WooSox.”
Somehow, the City of Worcester was able to pledge $100 million with no public awareness whatsoever. John DePetro and I disagreed, on WNRI earlier today, about the significance of this angle, but I don’t think it should be dismissed. I certainly want a governing system that allowed municipal leaders to do such a thing.
Yes, Massachusetts has been doing much better than Rhode Island in recent decades, with some solid reforms, and has therefore built up more trust equity with the voting public. By contrast, Rhode Island is still suffering a loss of confidence from 38 Studios which (importantly) has been further strained by Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s preferred economic development method of making special deals with powerful insiders and wealthy out-of-state interests.
That doesn’t mean Massachusetts’s luck will continue, or that Rhode Island won’t reevaluate its government. On the first count, I’ve long been noting that Massachusetts’s lead in education has been flagging ever since concessions to the labor unions under Deval Patrick, and we’ll have to wait a while to see whether the WooSox gamble pays off. On the second count, we can only hope that the nationally visible face plant with the erstwhile PawSox will cause insiders and the voting public alike to conclude that we just can’t continue on in the way that we’ve been governing ourselves.