Feb 25, 2012; Fort Myers FL, USA; Boston Red Sox president chief executive officer Larry Lucchino (left), owner John W. Henry (center), and chairman Thomas Werner (right) hold a press conference prior to spring training at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tax Man Cometh - Except For The Red Sox


And the ticket prices go up.

Most Favorable Nation status is a political concept that is beneficial to all parties. The short version is it is a good status to have and the Red Sox have managed to have a domestic version applied to themselves.

The late Howard Cosell used the term “Jockocracy” in reference to the media’s penchant for hiring on athletes who have limited or no experience, especially in television and radio. But in the years since Cosell’s passing the term has broaden in its scope to include preferential treatment of virtually all aspects of sport, and franchises in sports take advantage of our national obsession with all things sport.

The current Red Sox ownership has invested substantial amounts of money in renovating Fenway Park. The current estimates is that the figure approaches 300M. Obviously a must, necessary to expand revenues and remain as competitive as possible. Kudos’s must also be given to the ownership for having a sense of Boston politics and quickly backing off any public financing – total or partial – for a new ballpark. But it has come at a price for taxpayers.

There is nothing unusual about a private entity receiving fiscal support and other considerations from public authorities. Just a review of the myriad of bailouts in the last few years shows that. TIF’s are common concession as communities do a death dance with each other to acquire a new business or an expansion of an old. Boston is no different.

Fenway is historic both on national and state levels and that is a fact, since it now has that designation. With this comes breaks – tax breaks – both federal and local. The Red Sox have taken full advantage of this and will continue to do so as long as Fenway Park exists.

The allowances by the state have greatly enhanced their bottom line thanks to historic rehabilitation tax credits. These are there for the asking and ask they will. Then knock off another 20% in the yearly tax bill to the city. Not bad.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Red Sox have long had a favorable relationship. Not that getting tickets for the mayor, his coat-hangers and various City Counselors and their underlings has anything to do with it. I would venture the permit process for the Red Sox is a few days and phone calls away. The State – never to be left in the lurch – contributes their share buried in House bills. Infrastructure improvements tab of about 60M. The latest deal with the BRA was announced 9/20. This latest deal has managed to get the attention of the state Inspector General’s office thanks to an activist group. The outgoing mayor, Tom “Mumbles” Menino has essentially told all to get lost on the deal. Quid Pro Quo.

Red Sox expansion in the area goes as far back as when the team was shuffling dimes trying to make a fiscal deal that would bring Alex Rodriguez to Boston. The first of several moves occurred in 2005 and have continued since. Some of the real estate empire has become rather personal and well publicized – nothing like a little dirt.

John Henry and his partner’s are shrewd investors. Their management has doubled revenues, created other business opportunities, developed a branding giant and has made the Red Sox a premier franchise in baseball. Why Henry is now even buying the Boston Globe, to once again return ownership of that paper to the Red Sox family. And a taxpayer will make their contribution, even if they cannot tell a baseball from an orange.

Now, how about the dirty little secret of depreciation?

And the ticket prices go up.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox

  • stephenepeterson

    Brilliant assessment! Great piece.