A taxing thought about any PawSox move to Worcester

redSoxSocks

If you’re a fan of baseball the thought of having the local Major League team move one of its minor league affiliates to your city or town is usually just the stuff dreams are made of. But for Boston Red Sox fans in Worcester, it could be a little more than that.

It’s no secret the Boston Red Sox are looking to move their affiliate out of McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and as of July 1st the exclusive negotiating period between the Red Sox and Pawtucket has expired. So now when mayors and other local government officials from different cities call the Red Sox to talk about having the PawSox move there, the Red Sox can listen.

And it’s a safe bet some have already called.

The current proposal being tossed around has a new stadium being built next to the Blackstone River right in downtown Pawtucket. Estimated costs are in the $80 million range, with the Red Sox paying $40 million, the state of Rhode Island’s share would be in the $24 million neighborhood, and Pawtucket chipping in about $16 million.

Just like in Pawtucket, for Boston to move the PawSox to Worcester a new stadium would need to be built here. While Fitton Field is a nice ballpark, the home of Holy Cross College and the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s Bravehearts falls far below the minimums needed for a AAA level stadium. So a new stadium is the only option.

The Wyman-Gordon property abutting Madison Street is the most talked about location for a stadium, but the costs associated with that land are unknown. One would presume Wyman-Gordon would be willing to sell it, and maybe for less than it’s worth. The issue is it was a manufacturing site, so who knows what sort of environmental cleanup would be needed to make it safe to build on.

When you look at the proposal currently circulating for Pawtucket, the state and local governments are putting up nearly $40 million to build the park. When you figure in the interest on the bonds the city of Pawtucket will need to issue the cost to the city ends up a lot higher than just the $16 million it pays for the stadium. To build a stadium in Worcester one has to expect the terms would be similar to the Pawtucket proposal.

And as much as I’d love to see a “Worcester Red Sox”, I don’t want my tax dollars paying for any stadium.

Don’t get me wrong, if the only part of the deal to use public money was improvements to the Madison Street/Kelly Square area, then I’m all for it. But it would be an insult to tax payers for any public money to go toward building a stadium for a team owned by a billionaire.

A Google search in preparing for this posting could not find one municipality that made money on building a sports stadium, but the list of cities caught holding the bag years after a stadium was built is pretty long. I won’t even get into places like St Louis still paying for a stadium even after the team housed in it moved.

So if the Boston Red Sox want to move the PawSox here into a new stadium and pick up the check, I’m all for it. I will support them just as passionately as I support local pro hockey and the Bravehearts. It would be an easy bet that it would be a successful venture, and good for the businesses around the park and in the area in general.

But the only bag Worcester residents should be left holding better be full of peanuts.

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