PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An economist hired by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello to consult on a proposal for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium in Providence said Tuesday that he also is a consultant for the pro baseball commissioner’s office, but a spokesman for the speaker said he doesn’t see a conflict.
The owners of the Triple-A franchise of the Boston Red Sox are asking for a deal that would give them about $120 million in state subsidies over 30 years if the owners build a ballpark on former highway land downtown.
Mattiello, a Democrat, hired Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist as a consultant to evaluate the proposal.
Zimbalist, who will be paid $225 per hour, said he has consulted for the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball since 2005. The commissioner oversees some areas of the minor leagues.
Mattiello was aware of Zimbalist’s consulting work, spokesman Larry Berman said.
“Anyone with that type of expertise has to be engaged in the industry,” Berman said.
Zimbalist is the author of several books on sports economics, including one in 1997 focusing on the economic impact of stadiums. He said his $225-per-hour consulting rate is on par with what he’s been paid by cities seeking his advice on similar stadium proposals.
“I wouldn’t take the job if I felt like I was conflicted in any way at all,” he said.
Zimbalist said the PawSox owners’ proposal has good potential but is not necessarily a good deal. He said of subsidized stadiums: “As a generalization, I don’t think it’s been a good deal historically.”
Zimbalist said he has a relationship with all the major league teams because of his work in the industry. He said he knows the owners of the Boston Red Sox better than he knows those of other teams because he lives in Massachusetts, but he said he has not done business with them.
Red Sox President Larry Lucchino is a co-owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Victor Matheson, economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, said it’s not unusual for sports economists to have ties to the industry. He said Zimbalist’s consulting rate is on par with what he would charge.