The Boston Redevelopment Authority is ready to negotiate an extension of the deal that puts a public street — Yawkey Way — under the control of the Boston Red Sox on game days. Yet the city’s planning and development agency won’t even commit to seeking a better deal than the 11-season giveaway now enjoyed by the Red Sox. It should be tougher.
The game day annexation of Yawkey Way has been a clear win for the Red Sox, reaping about $2 million annually from concessions and souvenirs when the street is closed off to everyone except ticket holders. It's a bum deal for the city, however, which has received about $186,000 in annual licensing fees over the past decade for Yawkey Way and air rights for the Green Monster seating over Landsdowne Street. And those seats generate almost $4 million over the course of the season.
The deal might have made sense a decade ago when it was seen as part of the overall efforts to preserve Fenway Park. But now it looks more like a gift. The underlying legal structure for the Yawkey Way deal also has been called into question by former state inspector general Gregory Sullivan, who carefully tracked the transfer of rights for Yawkey Way from the Boston City Council to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to the Red Sox.
Sullivan believes that the BRA can't renegotiate a new lease on Yawkey Way unless it conforms to state bidding laws or seeks special legislation from state lawmakers. The BRA insists it is on solid legal footing. A courtroom may be needed to work out that issue. Meanwhile, the BRA and the Red Sox need to get down to business in the boardroom. And unlike in the past decade, the interests of the public should be at the head of the table.