Facing Overwhelming Public Opposition for PawSox Deal, What is Next for Owners
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Less than 30 percent of Rhode Islanders support the proposed financing for the new stadium in Pawtucket.
Voters in every demographic group, from every region of the state, from Democrats, to Republicans and Independent voters, all overwhelmingly oppose the structure that would put the ultimate obligation for over $80 millions on Rhode Island taxpayers.
Latest in PawSox Saga
The ownership group — which includes some of the richest businessmen in New England — continues to refuse to assume the financial responsibility for the deal.
The group of owners of the PawSox are worth an estimated $8 to $10 billion and depending on how you book the value of Fenway Sports Management (a division of the Boston Red Sox’ parent company, Fenway Sports Group) which has an ownership position in the PawSox, the net worth may be even higher. Note: John Henry’s net worth is reported at $2.5 billion, according to Forbes.
The ownership group has tried a number of tactics to try and garner support. The PawSox have reverted to the threat of moving the team out of Rhode Island. The late Jim Skeffington who led the PawSox ownership group effort to place the team in Providence in 2015, and requested $140 million in public subsidies, repeatedly threatened to move the team.
Under now-PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino, the group has intimated that both Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts are possible options. Reality is that Springfield is too far from an airport, and Governor Charlie Baker says he opposes using public funds for building a private stadium.
As former Providence Journal Editorial Page Editor and now GoLocal Columnist Robert Whitcomb wrote this summer: "The latest plan, one endorsed by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, to help finance a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, isn’t all that different from earlier ones. In the end, the state would be on the hook if the project doesn’t work out because of future declining interest in baseball, problems in Pawtucket, business cycles or other reasons.
A covered stadium that could accommodate all sorts of sports and other events year-round would have much more chance of long-term economic success than the proposed uncovered one but the PawSox owners, although they are all rich, don’t want to pay for that. Who can blame them?
Would the economic benefits of a new stadium extend beyond a few blocks of the proposed stadium site?"
Public Opposition to the Financing Plan
The poll conducted by John Della Volpe of Harvard by his firm SocialSphere mirrored other polls conducted in the past on the issue of public financing for the proposed PawSox stadium. The poll was sponsored exclusively by GoLocalProv.com.
"Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?"
Don't know: 4%
The poll results were relative to public financing for PawSox stadium was not unlike two other polls conducted previously in Rhode Island.
On Tuesday night, Senate Finance will take the PawSox proposal up again. This is the seventh hearing on the proposal. There will be no public comment taken at this meeting. It will consist of testimony from — and inquiry of — parties the committee has asked to testify, including the Department of Administration, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and the Department of Revenue, Division of Municipal Finance. There will be no public comment allowed. It can be viewed on the RI General Assembly website.
It is widely expected the Senate Finance Committee will pass the financing scheme. Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) has strongly expressed his support for the project. And, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has repeatedly said he supports the project.
According to a member of the House leadership “There are not ten votes on the floor for this deal.” Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello has voiced concerns about the deal, the cost, and the potential of sending it to the voters for approval in the election of 2018. It should be noted that Governor Gina Raimondo, who favors the financing package told the Providence Journal that she is open to the question going before the voters in 2018.
SEE FULL BENCHMARK POLL BELOW
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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