Nader blasts Red Sox on ballpark plan, instead, he says, team should fund Fenway upgrades
By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 03/26/00
Standing in the shadow of the fabled Green Monster - Fenway Park's left
field wall - consumer advocate and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph
Nader yesterday blasted the Red Sox's plans for a $600 million replacement
A longtime opponent of public subsidies for professional sports teams,
Nader denounced the team's owners as "arrogant" and equated their new ballpark
plan to the ancient Roman circus.
"They both feature gladiators, but this scheme is worse because at least
the ancient Romans let in the fans for free," Nader said. "There should be no
public subsidies for privately owned entertainment corporations. . . . I don't
think the Boston Red Sox want to be known as the Boston Tax Sox."
An outspoken critic of Connecticut Governor John Rowland's ill-fated plan
to build a publicly funded stadium for football's New England Patriots, Nader
has pressed federal lawmakers to revoke the antitrust exemptions currently
enjoyed by Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
Nader struck a class warfare theme, urging the Red Sox to privately
renovate 89-year-old Fenway Park rather than push the state and city to invest
in a new ballpark.
"They should prudently and privately fund the proper renovation of this
storied Fenway Park," he said as a small group of new-park opponents cheered.
"To win a World Series . . ., they don't need new skyboxes populated by
gluttonous financiers freeloading on the backs of hardworking taxpayers of
In town to attend a Green Party convention in Cambridge yesterday, Nader
was invited to speak about the Red Sox plan by Citizens Against Stadium
Subsidies, a newly formed local coalition opposed to the Red Sox project.
The coalition includes members of the Massachusetts Public Interest Group,
Save Fenway Park, the Fenway Action Coalition, Citizens for Limited Taxation,
Roxbury residents opposed to the team's plan to build satellite parking
facilities for fans near the Ruggles MBTA Station, and several other groups.
While Fenway residents are sharply divided on the project, the team has won
support from businesses and organized labor as well as some neighborhood
However, the team has not outlined how it hopes to finance the project.
Currently in talks with city and state officials, team officials hope to reach
a consensus on how much public investment they might request within the next
month or two.
The project includes a ballpark, major infrastructure improvements and two
parking garages, and would require the city to take the proposed 14-acre new
ballpark site, located adjacent to Fenway Park, by eminent domain.
Citing other ballpark projects across the country, sports financing
specialists estimate that the Red Sox may need up to $250 million in public
funds to build the project, which the team says it needs to compete with
opponents who have or are building new ballparks.
Yesterday, team officials did not criticize Nader. Instead, they repeated
arguments of ballpark boosters who say the project will generate additional
tax revenues for the city and state.
"It's legitimate to discuss whether the public should invest in
professional sports facilities, but here in Massachusetts, we've already
crossed that threshold with the Patriots, the Bruins, and the Celtics," said a
team spokeswoman, Kathyrn St. John.
"Our focus is to continue to work with our elected leaders to determine the
best way to move forward with financing our new ballpark."