As you may have heard, tomorrow at 4:00 pm, the
Commerce Corporation (formerly the EDC) I195 Commission will meet to hear a proposal from the PawSox for locating a baseball stadium in Providence — and what they want from state and Providence taxpayers to do so.
Almost simultaneously, all of the organizations and individuals* opposing the PawSox proposal will be holding a press conference — right outside of the building where the
Commerce Corporation I195 Commission will be meeting with the PawSox. In the event you are able, please stop by. It will kick off at around 3:45 pm. Below is the address of the Commerce Corporation, where the meeting will be taking place inside and the press conference opposing will be taking place outside.
315 Iron Horse Way
Providence, RI 02908
Helpful tip: should you need directions from Mapquest or Google, as I did, be sure to enter “555 Valley Street, Providence” instead.
So the latest development is that the PawSox have offered to purchase from the state the prime, waterfront land upon which they propose to build, largely if not exclusively at taxpayer expense, a baseball stadium.
They presumably still want $4 million/year from state taxpayers. (They have, remarkably and not very credibly, actually increased their estimate of offsetting tax revenue to the state from $2 million to $2.4 million/year. Let’s remember that, while the tax revenue from the stadium is a pure guess … er, projection, the $4 million/year from the taxpayers to the owners of the PawSox would be a firm obligation.) And they’d presumably still like to be relieved of the obligation to pay property taxes, an obligation that Providence Council President Aponte quickly tried to shift to state taxpayers.
Even WITH the PawSox offer to purchase the land, these constitute remarkably aggressive terms for a use whose seasonal nature prima facie limits its potential for economic activity.
In a way, the PawSox proposal is worse than 38 Studios. As WPRO’s John Loughlin pointed out, 38 Studios was a Hail Mary pass. But a Hail Mary pass has some chance, however remote, of succeeding. With this stadium, EVERYONE, including our elected officials, KNOWS UP FRONT that it would be a financial loser for taxpayers.
We all very much want the Pawtucket Red Sox to stay in Rhode Island, if not Pawtucket. But the price has turned out to be very high, indeed. No one has made a remotely rational case as to why, in the face of red budget ink as far as the eye can see, our elected officials, on behalf of state taxpayers, should take on yet another economic development loss leader like the Convention Center Authority.
We cannot easily divest ourselves of that $15 million/year net loss. But for heavens sake, we also don’t need to knowingly add another $2 – $4 million/year into that budget column.
* These include but are not limited to: The Coalition-Talk Radio (a shadowy group hell-bent on world dominat … no, wait, I’m thinking of Microsoft); the Progressive Democrats; the RIGOP; former G.A. candidate Ethan Gyles; Pat Ford aka “Pat from Cumberland”; Rep Doreen Costa; Senator James Sheehan; Jewelry District Association members (??? okey dokey); “active citizens Henry A. “Bud” Violet and Greg Gerritt; the Occupy Providence group”; and R.I. Taxpayers (see full disclosure below).
Monique Chartier is Communications Director of Rhode Island Taxpayers, a non-partisan taxpayer and business advocacy organization, and Editor of the R.I. Taxpayer Times.