Red Sox Take Advantage of the BRA

If you haven’t seen today’s Globe yet, it’s worth checking out: a team of reporters from Northeastern’s Initiative for Investigative Reporting — led by former Globe rockstar reporter Stephen Kurkjian — dismantle an enormous moneymaking deal between the city of Boston and the Red Sox in one fell swoop. Apparently, the city’s been letting the team lease Yawkey Way (for concessions) and the air rights above Lansdowne Street (for the expanded Green Monster) for pennies on the dollar. Over the past 9 years, the Red Sox has paid the Boston Redevelopment Authority an average of $186,000 annually for those leases; meanwhile, the team has been raking in millions. In 2011, for example, those two leases earned $6.42 in revenues for the team. That’s a lot of beers and bratwursts.

Listen, Yawkey Way and the expanded Green Monster rock. They’re both good for the team and the city of Boston. But the BRA didn’t need to bend over backward to make the deal happen, by declaring successful streets as part of “urban blight” or holding their thumb on the scale for the lease appraisals. (Or, for that matter, by shutting down streets for free for team parking.) The BRA could have easily come to a fair revenue-sharing deal that would have benefited everyone. The Red Sox, after all, are the second wealthiest team in baseball, worth nearly $1 billion. Do they really need government subsidies to sell more hot dogs?