500 signatures reached
To: Gov. Gina Raimondo
No Corporate Welfare for Skeffington and the PawSox
We, the undersigned, call on Gov. Raimondo to reject any and all legislation that would have tax payers fund a grand experiment in bringing a baseball team to Providence. The financial burden on the taxpayer is too great when compared with the projections of those proposing this idea, which are extremely optimistic. The potential losses are far too great and would further damage an economy already under immense strain.
Why is this important?
James Skeffington is the major proponent of moving the PawSox to Providence at the expense of the Rhode Island tax payer. This is a deal that will become the 38 Studios of the Raimondo administration. A brief review of the facts shall prove illuminating.
-Attorney Skeffington previously represented the founders of the RI Convention Center. As part of that deal, he worked it out that taxpayers would subsidize costs for the Convention Center until they turned a profit. As of 2015, the taxpayer is still subsidizing the Convention Center.
-The traffic will be disastrous and cause other business ventures to reconsider establishment in Providence. The construction of the ball park will require a substantial level of highway reconfiguration, both in Providence and on I-195, which will be of further cost to the taxpayers.
-38 Studios was a complete debacle, but it's very easy to re-purpose a failed video game designer office into an office park to to recover lost monies for the state. It's not so easy to do that with a baseball diamond.
Prof. Victor Matheson of Holy Cross had this to say to John Kostrzewa of the Providence Journal:
“It’s an absolutely silly economic idea… A good rule of thumb that economists use is to take what stadium boosters are telling you and move that decimal point one place to the left, and that’s usually a good estimate of what you’re going to get.”
Matheson's white paper, co-authored with Robert A. Baade, FINANCING PROFESSIONAL SPORTS FACILITIES, is available for free at (http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/Matheson-Baade_FinancingSports.pdf) and includes important insights, such as the following:
"Unfortunately, the methodology used to formulate estimates of economic impact [from sporting venue construction] is fatally flawed, resulting in a consistent bias toward large, but unrealized, impacts… Researchers who have gone back and looked at economic data for localities that have hosted mega-events, attracted new franchises, or built new sports facilities have almost invariably found little or no economic benefits from spectator sports… [A] portion of the blame for the poor, long-term benefits of spectator sports is the fact that the capital used in staging sporting contests is not easily convertible to other uses. While the construction of general infrastructure, such as modern airports, highways, and mass transit systems, provides economy-wide benefits, such architectural and technological marvels as Beijing‟s “Water Cube,” the 17,000 seat state-of-the-art swimming facility built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, has little use following the Games… While the long-run benefits of sporting events and stadium construction may never arrive, the debts that localities incur in hosting professional sports must still be paid. Montreal was still paying off its debts from the 1976 Olympics three decades later, and the Astrodome in Houston still carried millions of dollars of debt despite being vacant for a nearly a decade."