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Ballpark opponents critical of closed-door meeting

By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, 05/09/00

BOSTON - Members of a coalition opposed to the use of tax dollars for sports arenas are criticizing a closed-door meeting between Red Sox officials and Beacon Hill leaders.

"Last time I checked, this was a democracy,'' Rob Sargent of the Massachusetts Public Research Interest Group said Tuesday. "This is precisely the kind of thing that should be debated in public.''

Red Sox chief executive John Harrington and general manager Dan Duquette sat down with Gov. Paul Cellucci, Senate President Thomas Birmingham and House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino for more than an hour in Cellucci's office late Monday afternoon.

The topic of the meeting was the team's proposal to use public and private funds to build a new $600 million Fenway Park. The team has yet to say how much money they would like taxpayers to contribute.

Cellucci said Harrington requested the meeting and that he urged the team to study the deal approved by the Legislature last year to help the New England Patriots build a new stadium in Foxboro.

"We've just had some preliminary discussions, I really don't want to get into the details,'' said Cellucci, adding a deal might be reached before the end of the Legislature's formal session in July.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham also described the talks as preliminary.

"The Senate president hopes there will be additional opportunities to reach consensus or common ground on the issue,'' Alison Franklin said.

The team unveiled its plans for a new, 44,130-seat Fenway last year but have yet to announce financing.


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