Financing a ballpark
Editorial, Globe Staff, 04/29/00
The City of Boston owns many valuable properties, but a major-league
baseball stadium should not be one of them. As it seeks to help the Red Sox
build a new Fenway Park, the Menino administration ought to abandon the notion
of this kind of direct financial involvement.
City ownership, either directly or indirectly, is fraught with peril for
taxpayers. The stadium presumably would be built using bonds that would be
paid off with revenue from ticketholders. If the team lost popularity midway
through the repayment period, the city might be forced to use tax money to pay
off the bonds.
Other cities have encountered difficulties when the team no longer
considered the municipal baseball stadium adequate for its needs. If the city
owned the stadium, the team might demand a new or expanded ballpark 30 years
This page believes the city and state should help the Red Sox build a new
stadium. The state should make a contribution for ancillary costs, and an
amount higher than the $70 million allotted to the Patriots could be justified
by the baseball club's greater economic impact.
As for the city, it is already committed to providing the land for the new
convention center. For the Red Sox, it can help with land-taking, zoning, and
other matters, but its financial contribution should not be made at the
expense of other more urgent concerns.
The Red Sox promised to release a financing plan last July, but it has been
delayed repeatedly, and there is no prospect it will be ready soon. The Red
Sox will not explain why, but it is reasonable to assume that the team cannot
bridge the gap between what it can afford and what the state might contribute.
John Harrington, the Red Sox chief executive, should not rule out bringing
in other private interests to create a financially viable proposal. The city
and the state do have an interest in encouraging the Red Sox to thrive in
Boston, but the team itself, as the prime beneficiary of a new stadium, ought
to rely primarily on the private sector for financing.