To: Gov. Gina Raimondo

No Corporate Welfare for Skeffington and the PawSox

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."

Rhode Island, United States

Reasons for signing

  • Yes this is another 38 studio deal. It doesn't make sense to build a new 10,000 seat stadium when we already have a 10,000 seat stadium in Pawtucket. Leave the team in Pawtucket! State government needs to stay out of this deal!
  • Let's use all the time we were going to devote to deciding on Pawsox subsidies and put it into making the 195 land more attractive to investors who can help us with real economic development.
  • We love the Pawsox and will be heartbroken to see them go, but the taxpayers do not have an obligation to build a stadium that the owners will profit from. We can barely take care of Rhode Islanders!

Updates

2015-04-23 11:28:04 -0700

500 signatures reached

2015-04-20 18:27:12 -0700

After advice from several sources, I have revised the language of the petition to help grow our signature numbers. I also advise people to read Victor Matheson and John Baade's paper on sport venue construction.
http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/Matheson-Baade_FinancingSports.pdf

2015-04-20 12:30:10 -0700

Here's an article from the ProJo's Business Editor John Kostrzewa, talking with Holy Cross Professor Victor Matheson, who calls this 'an absolutely silly economic idea'.
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150419/NEWS/150419238/0/SEARCH

2015-04-16 17:10:32 -0700

100 signatures reached

2015-04-16 05:11:57 -0700

50 signatures reached

2015-04-15 20:58:20 -0700

25 signatures reached

2015-04-15 20:20:06 -0700

Two politicians who have expressed public skepticism about this deal are Providence's Mayor Jorge Elorza and Rep. Doreen Costa. Consider writing them a letter (snail mail is still given more respect than e-mail) and sharing your concerns.

Mayor Jorge Elorza
Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903

Rep. Doreen Costa
c/o House Chamber
Rhode Island State House
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903

2015-04-15 19:42:39 -0700

Today's report on this deal from Ted Nesi at WPRI 12 News (http://wpri.com/2015/04/15/pawsox-want-4m-a-year-from-ri-for-prov-stadium/) also shows this deal is getting slimier by the minute. Nesi reports:

"Skeffington said the new owners would put up the $85 million required to design and build the ballpark, but would seek state and city subsidies after it’s finished to help recoup the cost. They also want a 30-year lease on the land – at $1 a year – from the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and Brown University, with an option to buy it at fair market value at the end of the lease...[The deal] would commit taxpayers to pay about $5 million a year in rent, which would come out to $150 million over the life of the lease. The team would then sublease the stadium back from the state for $1 million a year, putting the net cost to taxpayers at $4 million annually, or $120 million over the life of the lease."

2015-04-15 19:40:28 -0700

Today I received in the mail a response from Gov. Raimondo's office. I had previously written to her and shared these points with her. Her office replies:

"The PawSox are an institution in Rhode Island and Governor Raimondo's main goal is keeping them in our state. She looks forward to speaking with their new ownership about the details of their proposals. Before any decisions are made we need to look at the impact and feasibility of all the options. Most importantly we need a plan that makes sense for the people of Rhode Island."

Given the level of comfort then-Treasurer Raimondo had with Wall Street banks in creating her infamous pension 'reform' scheme, it is not out of bounds to suggest she has a level of comfort working with Mr. Skeffington.

2015-04-15 19:04:15 -0700

10 signatures reached