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Some councilors cry foul over '11th-hour' Fenway Park deal

By Mac Daniel and Andy Dabilis, Globe Staff, 7/26/2000


For some city councilors and Fenway area residents, news that a deal had been struck last night to finance a new ballpark for the Red Sox left them feeling lost in left field.

Peter Catalano, a member of the Fenway Action Coalition, a group against stadium subsidies, said the deal reached by officials of the team, city, and state is just more deception.

''What we are concerned about is that this deal is the most expensive subsidized stadium facility in US history,'' he said. ''The cost to the City of Boston when you include debt service and loss of revenue will be about $45 million per year for 30 years.''

''The process by which this is going to be rammed through the state Legislature is exceedingly unseemly,'' he said. ''There is no way people can digest the complexity of this issue in just a couple of days. There isn't even a bill that's been drafted.''

One community group, however, was thrilled that an agreement had been reached to build a new Fenway.

Pamela Beale, president of the pro-stadium Kenmore Association, said, ''I had a lot of faith in the process. If they do it in a sensitive way, I think it will benefit everybody.''

But several city councilors said they were miffed that they weren't part of the negotiations.

''It will have a hard time getting through the council. It's at the 11th hour,'' said Council President James Kelly of South Boston, who said he had warned Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Red Sox officials that they could not expect a rubberstamp approval.

Councilor At Large Peggy Davis-Mullen said, ''If the city is going to OK any dollars, you gotta ask the council for the money. The city needs to borrow the money, and they (negotiators) are talking about how the city will be paid back.''

She said appropriations need seven votes on the 13-member council, but possible eminent domain land takings would need nine votes, and seven members have already said they oppose the plan. ''I don't support public financing of a ballpark, it doesn't matter how they come up with it,'' Davis-Mullen said.

The team would have to spend $352 million for construction of 44,000-seat ballpark, the smallest in the major leagues.

The city would contribute $140 million for land acquisition and site preparation, as well as $72 million for a parking garage, while the state would kick in $100 million on infrastructure costs, such as road and subway improvements.

The city and team would share revenues from the garage, although some councilors had been opposed to building the facility in the first place.

To raise $12 million annually to pay off bonds for the city's share, a $5 parking surcharge would be levied on spaces around the park on game days.

Other sources of revenue include a 5 percent surcharge on general-admission tickets and a 15 percent surcharge on luxury-box tickets.

Councilor Brian J. Honan of Brighton said the worst-case-scenario for a ballpark plan had materialized.

''The council was concerned from day one that a detailed and comprehensive piece of legislation would be dropped on our lap to vote up or down with a gun to our head,'' Honan said.

The entire council would not be part of the upcoming negotiations, he said, but all 13 members have received extensive e-mail opposing any public-financing plans. Approval of any prospective land takings would be especially difficult, Honan predicted. While the Legislature planned quick hearings this weekend, city councilors will be more deliberative, he said.

''There's no question we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and the city,'' Honan said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

This story ran on page A8 of the Boston Globe on 7/26/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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