On behalf of Massachusetts taxpayers, of which I am one, I would like to take this opportunity to lend credit to where credit is due: to the Boston Red Sox franchise. Why? Well, as the The Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, the Boston Red Sox have upgraded their facilities and, unlike most MLB teams, have done so without relying on taxpayer dollars. Given the fact that nearly every MLB team has gone to local politicians with a request for millions in taxpayer money for a new stadium, the Red Sox approach should be highlighted, admired, and replicated.
Since 2002, the Red Sox have spent more than $200 million out of their own pockets to renovate historic Fenway Park. The result:
Revenue has grown to $266 million today from about $180 million in 2002. The team’s market value has also risen, to $870 million from $617 million in 2005. All without building a new stadium or asking for a dime of taxpayer money.
How Red Sox executives privately managed and funded expansion of their timeless ballpark stands in stark contrast to the manner in which their rival, rent-seeking New York Yankees financed their brand new stadium, which opened last year. The American Conservative reports:
…the new Yankee Stadium was financed to the tune of $1.2 billion of public subsidies.
“Public subsidies” is simply political jargon for taxpayer revenue, and $1.2 billion is a lot to extract from taxpayer pockets just for an entertainment venue that many who footed the bill will never enjoy.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino emphasizes the importance of avoiding taxpayer funding:
We knew the perils of asking for public money.
Too bad we don’t have more people like Lucchino in public office.
Regarding the success of Fenway’s expansion and renovation sans public money, The Wall Street Journal reports:
The net result is that the Red Sox still play in the smallest ballpark in baseball, have capped season-ticket sales at 20,000 seats out of about 40,000, and yet, according to Forbes magazine, remain the team with the third-highest revenue in all of baseball.
Instead of hitting up taxpayers, the not-so-hard-for-cash New York Yankees, and all professional sports teams should emulate the responsible, and ultimately lucrative, approach of the Boston Red Sox.
As WSJ reporter Mark Yost didactically notes:
…the next time a sports franchise goes begging for taxpayer funding for a new stadium, politicians should have the guts to tell them: “Pay for it yourself.” The Red Sox did…