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Maine lawmakers grant Portland Sea Dogs $2 million in tax breaks for ballpark renovations

Fans watch Sea Dogs baseball under the lights at Hadlock Field in Portland on Aug. 27, 2018.
Troy Jackson
Fans watch Sea Dogs baseball under the lights at Hadlock Field in Portland on Aug. 27, 2018.

The Maine House and Senate approved a bill on Tuesday to grant a $2 million tax break to the Portland Sea Dogs to pay for renovations to Hadlock Field. LD 2258 would help the minor league club construct a new player clubhouse and make renovations to the playing field.

The Double-A affiliate for the Boston Red Sox said Hadlock Field fails to meet facility requirements set by Major League Baseball (MLB) for stadiums serving Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams.

"Right now, our visiting clubhouse is housed in the basement of the Portland Expo," said Geoff Iacuessa, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs. "Our home team will move to the new clubhouse, and the visiting team will move out of the expo and into our current home clubhouse."

The Maine House approved the bill on Wednesday evening after originally striking down the bill on Tuesday. The Senate subsequently approved it on Wednesday, sending the bill to Gov. Janet Mills' desk for final approval.

The privately owned Sea Dogs would cover $8 million of the $10 million renovation project. The remaining $2 million would come from public tax credits spread over 15 years.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy testified in opposition to the bill. While Hadlock Field is owned by the city of Portland, the non-profit policy said the renovations stand to primarily benefit the privately owned team, not the public.

"If the city of Portland was creating a budget and deciding where to invest money, they wouldn’t be making these upgrades to Hadlock Field," said Maura Pillsbury, a tax policy analyst for MECEP. "These upgrades are coming from MLB, [so] it just makes it all be more confusing why [the Sea Dogs] need to ask for public funds to make a profit.”

The Sea Dogs are owned by Diamond Baseball Holdings, a subsidiary of Silver Lake, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. The company owns 32 team affiliates — over a quarter of all minor league teams.

Updated: April 18, 2024 at 11:29 AM EDT
Updated after the Senate approved the bill on Wednesday evening.
Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.

Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.