NO Taxpayer Dollars For Stadium

(UPDATE: A second hearing before the House Finance Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, June 19, in Room 35. The committee calendar says 3:35pm but these hearings tend to go late. ProJo 6.15.18.)

And NO to Mattiello’s schemes. Here is all you need to know about the stadium deal at this point: PawSox ownership is lying about this season’s attendance numbers and attendance is down. So House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello expects the taxpayers of Rhode Island to go into business with liars in order to invest in what may be a dying sport.

Kudos to GoLocalProv for their report of May 3, 2018, “PawSox attendance inflated by as much as 300%.” And they backed it up with photographs.

The PawSox reported attendance to the International League was 2,328 for Tuesday night’s game, and when pressed by GoLocal on the attendance number they were told by a PawSox spokesperson that the turnstile count was 1,444, but according to photos taken at McCoy, the attendance was approximately 400. PawSox officials refused to explain how the team’s turnstile number could be 1,000 fans higher — or more than 300 percent.

It gives me no pleasure to announce that, following its peak in 2008, attendance for minor league baseball is on the decline. An AP report in USA Today indicates that attendance in the minor leagues is headed for its lowest average in 15 years.

Heading into the weekend, the average attendance of 27,207 was down 6 percent from 28,931 on the Friday before Memorial Day last season.

In an analysis by Jason Notte for MarketWatch — “How minor league baseball struck out with taxpayers” —  he reports on the disastrous story of the Hartford Yard Goats, and the multiple empty and abandoned stadiums in New Jersey. This story of the Atlanta Braves Triple-A team might be instructive.

Back in 2008, Gwinnett County, Ga., got the idea to lure the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A team from Richmond, Va., and watched the $45 million it originally intended to spend on a stadium balloon to $64 million. Not only has attendance fallen each year since the stadium opened in 2009, but the 3,200 the team drew per game in 2016 ranked dead last in Triple A.

Yes, those pesky cost overruns! If you can find any mention of cost overruns (that day when the stadium will be sitting there half-finished for all the world to see, and Mr. Lucchino crawls back to the legislature with hat in hand) in Mattiello’s convoluted statement, please help me. (Keeping things complicated and confusing are the order of the day in these matters. One of the reasons we got suckered into the 38 Studios deal was because so many men in the legislature wouldn’t admit that they didn’t understand what they were reading.)

And how has attendance been this year in Larry Lucchino’s prize project, Camden Yards in Baltimore? Terrible. Yes, the team is terrible this year, but The Baltimore Sun reports that ticket sales have been weak in the preceding winning years.

The Orioles have been far more competitive over the past six-plus years, but attendance has sagged each of the past three seasons, and dropped to a six-year low of 2,028,424 overall in 2017.

So how are the PawSox doing this season? They are tied for last in their division.

I find myself agreeing completely with the assessment of the Chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Brandon S. Bell, who told RIPR,

When the City of Pawtucket proves incapable of finding the money to pay for the stadium bonds, it will turn to the State of Rhode Island to bail it out,” Bell said. “The City of Pawtucket already has a high level of debt and pension liabilities. The Senate Finance Committee was told that it could take ten years before any development near a new ballpark could generate enough money to cover the city’s bonds. The new proposal will make the situation worse for Pawtucket by increasing the borrowing costs of the bonds. Even if the State of Rhode Island does not back-stop the stadium bonds now, it will end up bailing out Pawtucket in the future when it lacks the funds to pay for these bonds.”

If Pawtucket teeters towards bankruptcy because the pipe dreams of their deluded mayor do not pan out, will state leadership really just sit idly by? Or will the taxpayers be forced to bail them out.

So here I am, a progressive liberal democratic socialist blogger, quoting from, and siding with, state republicans.

In fact, I’m going all in: Mr. Steven Frias, please, I’m begging you, run against Nicholas Mattiello this November!

(Keep up with the latest stadium developments at the No New Stadium Facebook page.)

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