Dave Richards for June 26th…………….
--Well, for the first time since the beginning of 2018 the citizens of Rhode Island can breathe a sigh of relief, we are finally “safe”. The Rhode Island General Assembly has completed their work for another session. As sessions go, it was on the whole less harmful to the personal rights of Rhode Islanders than last year’s session, probably because it’s an election year and, while they had to do something to please the special interests in the home districts, they had to also tread softly and not displease the masses or give likely opponents ammunition for the campaign trail.
I say this each year when the Assembly ends their labors and I say it with my tongue firmly set inside my cheek because as much as we may say, with no undue cynicism, that the General Assembly will do what it wants with no regard to right or wrong, it’s not always like that. I’ve commented before that a person is only a leader when others are following them. I believe that to be true. So, too, with our elected leaders in the General Assembly.
One reason the Speaker of the House had such a tough time this year is that he was obliged to address the desires of the folks back in the district he represents. He had a close election last time and he doesn’t want another one. This fact moderated his behavior on several topics during the session.
One topic where the Speaker had some consternation was the so-called “Pawsox deal”. This was a no-brainer good deal for everyone, but the folks back home in the Speaker’s district didn’t want it because it would help Pawtucket and do nothing for them. Okay. That is their privilege to think that way. But on the other hand the Speaker knew that other representative districts represented by other Representatives were squarely behind it. If he killed the deal outright, the affected Reps might not vote him in as Speaker again. If he didn’t do it at least some harm, he might not be re-elected to the House to stand for re-election by his colleagues as Speaker. You see, even the so-called “most powerful man in the state government” doesn’t have it as easy as you might think.
So the deal which passed took away any financial guarantees of the state and let the deal move forward IF the ball club and the City of Pawtucket could swing the deal without the state being a ‘co-signer’.
Given what we are hearing about the proposal the City of Worcester has put on the table to entice the Pawsox to move to their city, there is clearly a big decision to be made here.
I’m sure the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox would rather stay in Rhode Island if they can have a new ball park to work in. But “rather” doesn’t pay the bills, does it? It will take a complex analysis of a number of variables, some of which the club will not be in control of, before a decision can be made.
It will cost them more money to just stay in Rhode Island. But the new ball park planned here will give them many more opportunities to make the extra money. They also have a fan base here which cannot be expected to drive up Route 146 every time they want to see a game. There will be at least initial losses at the gate if they move.
Then there are the extra expenses of a move to another city. The loss of the fan base and the expense of building a new one. Plus, the losses which might be expected to continue while the fan base is built up there.
And consider this. What if the team doesn’t win consistently at Worcester? If that happened in Pawtucket, and it has happened in Pawtucket, the fans still come out to see the games. Could you expect that to happen in Worcester? I don’t think so. A bad season just after the move could be financially disastrous to the ball club. And remember that it is much easier for a minor league team to have a bad year through no fault of their own. All you need is a bunch of injuries on the Boston Red Sox team calling up minor league players and taking the talent away from the minor league club.
So at least a deal is on the table after a year and a half of bumbling by elected officials who at times more resembled frightened kittens than confident leaders. I know the public will support the team, that has been proven over the many years. But the real question here is whether the team’s affection for and warm relationship with its fans can overcome the damage to the team’s relationship with government leaders who, in my opinion, treated the Pawsox as if they were bums looking for a handout.
I think the owners of the Pawsox have a right to resent this treatment. I hope they decide to take the deal, such as it is, and stay in Pawtucket. Remember as you deliberate, guys, that government leaders come and go……..but baseball goes on forever!
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.