Fenway Park study inflates benefits, MASSPIRG says
By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 03/03/00
A new Fenway Park will not give Boston the economic boost its backers
promise, a consumer and environmental group says.
Seeking to discourage lawmakers from investing public funds in the project,
the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group yesterday assailed a
10-month-old study that touts the economic benefits of the Red Sox's proposed
$600 million ballpark.
"It is not a good use of taxpayers' money," said Rob Sargent, Masspirg
director. "Taxpayers should not be financing the private gain of Major League
Masspirg argued that a prior study backed by Boston business and tourism
leaders grossly exaggerated the economic impact.
That study, released by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the
Convention & Visitors Bureau, said public investment in a new, larger Fenway
Park would generate an estimated $116 million in additional annual spending in
the Boston area and create 1,032 permanent jobs.
Masspirg contends that that analysis used inflated figures for annual
attendance, the number of out-of-state fans likely to attend games, and the
amount they will spend. Its criticisms were bolstered by sports economist
Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College and an author of several books
opposing public subsidies for stadiums.
Yesterday, chamber officials stood by their assessment. President Paul
Guzzi said C.H. Johnson Consulting Inc. of Chicago, which wrote the report, is
a nationally respected firm.
Added Red Sox spokeswoman Kathryn St. John: "We think there are significant
economic benefits . . . and that any public investment would be returned
because of the public benefits."
St. John would not say exactly when the team would make a public request
for government money, only that it would occur "at the end of winter."
Observers expect the team may ask for up to $250 million in state
Other groups, including the Fenway Action Coalition and Save Fenway Park,
joined Masspirg yesterday to oppose the Red Sox plan.