House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello is still talking as if he has heard, read, and learned, absolutely nothing about the current thinking on taxpayer-funded stadiums from around the country. From Katherine Gregg’s ‘Politics’ column in today’s ProJo.
On the proposed Providence stadium, he said: “Negotiations are active between the state and the Pawtucket Red Sox ownership team. Andrew Zimbalist, as the House’s adviser, is briefing me on a regular basis on the negotiations. As I have stated, we are working towards making this a much better deal for the citizens of Rhode Island and there will be ample opportunity for the public to weigh in before any possible plan is considered.”
A couple of questions come to mind, and I have emailed Speaker Mattiello a version of the following, and I will include his answers verbatim should we hear back.
First, I would like to know how much has been paid out so far to Andrew Zimbalist for his services? In the beginning he was called a consultant; consultants provide facts, background, numbers, context . . . information. He could have completed that task months ago with a link to his interview with Stephen Dubner at Freakonomics.
All of the independent, scholarly research on the issue of whether sports teams and facilities have a positive economic impact has come to the same conclusion: One should not anticipate that a team or a facility by itself will either increase employment or raise per capita income in a metropolitan area.
. . .if the public or its political representatives are trying to make the case that a team or a facility by itself will be an important development tool, then the electorate should think twice before opening its collective wallet.
But now we have Zimbalist, the adviser. This sounds like an ongoing position aimed at providing Mattiello with political strategies and maneuvers for getting this project done. Is Zimbalist being paid for these regular briefings by the taxpayers of Rhode Island, or is he a registered lobbyist for the PawSox ownership team?
Second, in “negotiations are active between the state and the Pawtucket Red Sox ownership team” who exactly is meant by “the state”? Is “the state”. . . House Speaker Mattiello? The general assembly is not in session; I would like to know who specifically is negotiating what.
I also asked the Speaker if he had availed himself of the presentation given by sports economist Professor Victor Matheson of Holy Cross, even included a link to RI Future. (I would have added the John Oliver piece but I doubt very much that Mattiello has a clue who he is, nor why he should listen to some goofy limey lecturing him on baseball stadiums!)
Mattiello recently told one interviewer that opposition to the stadium plan seemed to be declining. In other words, if you called his office in March, emailed his office in April, and wrote him a letter in May, but then spent all June happily living your life . . . he can say your opposition to the project is declining. So, time to contact him again. And again and again.
House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello at: State House, Room 323, Providence, RI 02903 or call (401) 222-2466. Or email him here, firstname.lastname@example.org.
And let your own representative know that you oppose any further negotiations! There is no better deal. The offer on the table is $0.00 and that’s as high as we’ll go. Say no to taxpayer-supported stadiums!