Sox appear on firmer footing in Fenway
By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 04/07/00
After being caught off guard by one of their strongest political allies
last week, the Boston Red Sox appeared to regain some footing yesterday
following "constructive" meetings with Governor Paul Cellucci and Boston Mayor
Thomas Menino - two of the four political leaders who will determine the fate
of the team's proposed new Fenway Park.
Red Sox chief John Harrington did not emerge with a definitive financing
plan for the $600 million project. But city and state officials familiar with
the talks said the team made "encouraging progress" toward its bid to secure
public investment for the project.
In particular, Harrington made headway with Menino, who last week suddenly
made demands that threatened to block the team's plan. It was the first
face-to-face meeting since Menino surprised the Red Sox by calling for more
private investment in the project.
"There's no deal yet, but it's clear there may be a way to get to yes,"
said one public official familiar with the talks.
Harrington met with Menino and several aides for more than an hour at the
Parkman House yesterday morning. Following recent meetings with Senate
President Thomas Birmingham and House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Harrington also
met with Cellucci at the State House yesterday afternoon.
Harrington and Menino declined to comment on the financing plans under
review, but according to city sources, the mayor reaffirmed his support for
At the same time, Menino also narrowed the team's options yesterday. Asked
to clarify how far the city might go to assist with the new ballpark project,
Menino specifically ruled out a stadium authority and municipal ownership of
the new ballpark.
"The stadium authority idea is dead," said one public official familiar
with the talks.
Nonetheless, after the meeting, the Red Sox sounded more upbeat than they
have in weeks. "It was a constructive meeting and they had a good dialogue,"
said team spokeswoman Kathryn St. John. "We appreciate the mayor's time and
Harrington also sought reassurance yesterday from Cellucci, who recently
returned from a trade mission to China. A key supporter of the team's bid for
a new Fenway Park, the governor has carefully reserved judgment on how much
the state should invest in the project until the team presents a formal
In the past, Cellucci has said he supports infrastructure assistance for
the project and has cited the New England Patriots' new stadium deal as a good
model for the Red Sox. Under the Patriots bill, which was endorsed by the
governor, Finneran, and Birmingham, the state will receive $1.4 million a year
for 25 years in return for $70 million in infrastructure assistance for the
new Foxboro Stadium.
Led by team vice president James Healy, the Red Sox also met with the
D'Angelo family, owners of the Twins Enterprise souvenir shops on Yawkey Way.
One idea under review calls for the D'Angelos to relocate their souvenir
businesses to shops surrounding the new ballpark, but no agreements were
Last week, Menino pressed the Red Sox to "partner" with the D'Angelos as a
way to cut land acquisition costs since the family owns a large parcel of land
within the footprint of the proposed new Fenway Park.
No consensus on a possible financing package has emerged. But it appears
likely that the team will ask the city to assist with land acquistion and
cleanup, and that state funds will be sought for infrastructure and possibly
for two garages in the plan.
Both city and state officals are pushing the team for some payback on their
investments. Menino has said the city will consider the net increase in
property taxes from development generated by investment in the new ballpark as
part of its payback.
After months of negotiations with the city and state, the Red Sox have
steadfastly declined to specify how they hope to craft an agreement on
possible public aid for the project. No timetable for annoucing the financing
plan has been set, but with the Legislature scheduled to adjourn in July, the
team recently intensified the pace of negotiations. The Red Sox are slated to
meet with city and state officials again today.