Like everyone on planet earth, I’m not sure where the Red Sox’ AAA affiliate would attract the most fans, make the most money and/or do the most economic good. But I’m fairly certain new Pawsox owner Jim Skeffington is using some tricky accounting and very high pressure sales tactics to get Rhode Island to finance the relocation of the business he just bought.
First the tricky accounting.
The stadium will be privately financed, Skeffington said today. But he’s asking for $120 million in public subsidies after he privately finances it. The cost to build is $85 million, so Skeffington makes a net profit of $35 million for privately financing construction of the stadium.
Skeffington, a lawyer from Barrington, would like his $120 million in annual payments of $4 million, please. And the state needs to both rent from him and then subsequently sublease back to him the stadium. So he gets to be both the landlord and its the tenant while taking in $35 million.
Skeffington even had the gall to claim the people would only owe him roughly half that, so long as his sales and hotel tax predictions ring true for the next 30 years. Never mind the property taxes his publicly funded private project deprives from the Capital City. Oh and, by the way, existing zoning laws don’t allow Jim Skeffington to build a baseball stadium there. So he’s going to need some laws changed, too.
As if all this Orwellian accounting isn’t bad enough, Jim Skeffington is doing all this under the ruse that the people need to save minor league baseball in Rhode Island. Nonsense! The PawSox were a perfectly fine franchise – if not a model organization – before Jim Skeffington came along. The only thing endangering minor league baseball in Rhode Island is Jim Skeffington’s willingness to move the team to Massachusetts.
It’s his team now and, Ben Mondor be damned, he can do with it what he pleases. And I don’t begrudge him for wanting the best patch of dirt in the state. But I’m of the mind that Jim Skeffington needs Rhode Island a lot more than Rhode Island needs a minor league baseball team, especially given that Skeffington says he’s in it for all the right reasons and it will cost us a slice of the most prime real estate we’ll ever sell.
Let’s call this guy’s bluff. At the very least, let’s not treat him like he’s a savior while he rakes us over the coals. The PawSox will be plenty fun to go see in Massachusetts, and we’ll all love talking about how they used to be here. Jim Skeffington, on the other hand, will go down in Rhode Island history as the cruel lawyer who took our team to Massachusetts. If Skeffington is really in it for the right reasons, then it is the state that should be negotiating from a position of strength.