Last Series title
Red Sox unveil plans for new ballpark
State leaders receptive, but Menino balks
By Christopher A. Szechenyi and Stan Dorsey, Boston.com Staff, 05/19/00
BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox today unveiled long-awaited plans to pay for a new ball park that include $352 million from the team, and a request for $140 million from the city and $130 million from the state.
Saying the plan represents the largest private investment of its type in the nation, the team's executives also said the team may sell naming rights to the new 44,000-seat stadium, which is slated for a 14-acre site in the Fenway area.
John Birtwell, a spokesman for Gov. Paul Cellucci, said the governor's reaction was "generally favorable" after looking over the proposal.
"The governor's looked at it," Birtwell said at mid-afternoon. "If we can reach an agreement with the Red Sox and the city and the state on the revenues from the (proposed) parking garage, this could be better than the Patriots (deal) for taxpayers."
The state's contribution to the deal includes an $82 million parking garage for the new ball park.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino was less enthused by the idea, and expressed disappointment that he did not receive details of the plan ahead of today's announcement by the Red Sox.
"A deal of this magnitude should not be played out in the media," he said in an interview with Boston.com. "We're back to negotiating through the media."
Menino said he had not yet received any details from the Sox, although team officials have had some meetings with him. "They'll have to spell it out," the mayor said.
Menino said the city's debt service on its share of financing the stadium would cost $12 million to $14 million a year.
"If I make an investment, I want a return on my investment. If I give the Sox $12 million a year, I can't build the schools and playgrounds the city needs."
The team's chief executive, John Harrington, met with Boston Globe and Boston.com reporters this morning and outlined details of the plan to finance the new stadium.
The team plans to build 95 luxury suites that would be sold for as much as $200,000 apiece each season, the most expensive price in the league at this time.
The new ballpark will generate a total of $45 million annually from gate receipts, concessions and other revenue sources, according to the team's projections.
Of that $45 million, the team plans to spend about $17 million on maintaining the team's competitiveness, such as new player contracts and minor league development. About $9 million will go toward increased operating costs, and $19 million will be spent on debt service.
"To the extent that we invest in this project, that is just more money being taken away from our product," said Dan Duquette, the team's general manager, who is concerned about having less money to spend on players.
The Red Sox representatives also said the new ballpark would attract 1 million new visitors each season above their current draw. The Red Sox have attracted a yearly average of 2.39 million people to Fenway Park over the last decade, not including the strike season in 1994.
They do not, however, expect to sell out every game as do other teams in the league, such as San Francisco and Cleveland.
The Sox officials said they may have to call on investments from some of their limited partners to pay their share of the stadium.