How Former Boston Red Sox Pitcher (allegedly) Cost Rhode Island Taxpayers $75 Million

July 16th, 2012

During his heyday as pitcher for the Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling always had a reputation for shooting his mouth off; for going against the grain. But with 216 wins and three World Series titles under his belt, Schilling could afford to be outspoken – or arrogant, as his critics would put it. Recurring injuries caused him to retire from the sport in 2009, but Schilling remained in the public eye thanks to his tireless political advocacy supporting Republican candidates for office as well as his frequent media appearances.

Schilling has always been an avid gamer, starting with tabletop pen and paper war-games and eventually moving on to more advanced computer games. Of particular interest to Schilling were MMORPG’s (massive multiplayer online role playing games) such as Everquest and World of Warcraft, where thousands of players across the world simultaneously take part in adventures in a persistent virtual world.

Schilling, whose estimated net worth was $50 million at the time of his retirement, decided to make the jump from game player to game developer in 2005. His plans were nothing if not ambitious – Schilling recruited bestselling fantasy author R. A. Salvatore, comic book legend/entrepreneur Todd McFarlane and former executives from Comcast and Electronic Arts, placing them in key positions in his new company.

Initially called Green Monster Games, Schilling’s game development company changed its name to 38 Studios in early 2007; the 38 being a reference to Schilling’s jersey number. 38 Studios continued to expand throughout 2007 and 2008, acquiring developer Big Huge Games from publisher THQ in May 2009.

Originally headquartered in a 30,000 square foot office complex in Maynard, Massachusetts, executives in 38 Studios announced that the company was going to relocate to Providence, Rhode Island in 2010. What prompted his sudden relocation? A $75 million enticement in the form of a guaranteed loan from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. The RIEDC describes itself, according to its website, as a “quasi-public agency, the Corporation serves as a government and community resource to help streamline the business expansion in, and relocation to, Rhode Island.”

The $75 million loan guarantee was strongly supported by then Republican Governor Donald Carcieri, was touted as a ‘job creating initiative.’ 38 Studios executives promised to bring 450 direct jobs to Rhode Island as part of the loan agreement.

Now would be a good time to point out that although 38 Studios was established in 2006, continued to expand as a company up to 2009, negotiated the loan agreement with Rhode Island in 2010 and relocated to Providence by mid 2011, they had yet to release a single game amid all this corporate maneuvering.

The average big budget game (or AAA games, as they are known in the industry) typically takes between 2 and 3 years to complete, has a staff of hundreds of developers working on it and requires budgets nearing hundreds of millions of dollars (source). While video games are a $75 billion industry (according to 2011 figures from Gartner Inc), the vast majority of AAA games barely break even or fail to make a profit. Most big publishers stick with established franchises that are known sellers, making new intellectual properties a tough sell.

38 Studios released their first game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, in February 2012. A single-player action role-playing game from a new developer was always going to have a tough time in a market dominated by military first-person-shooters, MMORPGs and casual smart-phone games, and that is the unfortunate fate that befell the ambitious Kingdoms of Amalur. While the game was fairly well reviewed (Metacritic score: 80%), it was a financial disaster. The game sold 1.2 million copies since launch, far short of the 3 million retail copies it needed to sell just to break even on development costs.

In the wake of the lukewarm reception Kingdoms of Amalur got from the market, officials in the Rhode Island governor’s office began to grow increasingly concerned over their $75 million investment in Curt Schilling’s company. 38 Studios missed a scheduled loan payment in May 2012, and it was revealed that the company failed to make payroll that month. Emergency meetings between current governor Lincoln Chafee and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation were held to discuss with the impending crisis. Accusations and counter accusations were thrown about in the press, but by this point the writing was on the wall. In May 24, 2012 38 Studios closed its doors and filed for Chapter-7 bankruptcy.

Although the studio closed down, the matter is far from settled. It was announced in early June that “Rhode Island state police, the attorney general’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the FBI are launching investigations into the company.”

Emails obtained by the Associated Press later revealed that an official with the RIEDC who was involved in finalizing the $75 million deal contacted 38 Studios’ chief financial officer for a possible executive level position in the company. As a result of the scandal, the entire board of directors of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation have either resigned outright or are looking to leave once their terms are up (source).

Investigations into the company are currently underway – expect more political fallout and possible criminal charges before the dust settles.

Ines Sainz = Most Attention at Super Bowl

February 3rd, 2011

Seems like Ines Sainz is the talk of the town this week in Dallas. Some are saying she is getting more attention than many players. Hard to wonder why.

How good is Andrew Luck?

January 4th, 2011

Well after tonight the rest of the nation should now realize just how great this kid is. If there was any doubt about him going #1 overall in the draft, tonight should have sealed the deal. Yes, he still needs to decide if he wants to declare himself eligible for the draft but I can’t imagine him staying in the college ranks. He has nothing to gain staying at Stanford. His value may never be this high again after his performance tonight.

Luck was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy. Seems like #2 is where you want to be when it comes to the Heisman. Whatever Andrew decides to do, he will continue to have great success playing QB.

Goodbye Portland Beavers, Hello Tucson Padres!

December 21st, 2010

Goodbye Portland Beavers, Hello Tucson Padres! The Portland Beavers are no more and will not be known as the Tucson Padres for the next two years. They are going to play in Tucson using the Padres name. Final arrangements for a stadium lease are bing made. The long term plan is to move the Tucson Padres to Escondido to play where they have approved plans to build a $50 million stadium. Escondido is a suburb in San Diego County and about a 40 minute drive to Downtown San Diego where the current San Diego Padres play at Petco Park. The Tucson Padres will play in the Pacific Coast League.

Anyone else tired of Brett Favre?

December 20th, 2010

Anyone else tired of Brett Favre and ready for him to retire already? Who do we blame for this media tragedy? Is Favre an attention whore or is it the media’s never ending fascination with him. Whatever it is, I am sick of it. Let’s move on and talk about something else already. There are so many better stories in sports right now.

San Diego Padres trade for All-Star Jason Bartlett & PTBNL

December 18th, 2010

On December 17, 2010 the San Diego Padres traded Adam RussellCesar RamosBrandon Gomes, and Cole Figueroa for Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later. Initially the deal was thought to only involve Russell and Ramos but Gomes and Figueroa were also added to the trade.

The Padres have already traded All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox and needed to complete the middle and right side of their infield. On Thursday the Padres acquired free agent Orlando Hudson. With Cameron Maybin in center field, Hudson at 2nd and Bartlett at Short the Padres will be very solid up the middle defensively and the three players should bring better offensive production in 2011.

Bartlett was interviewed late on Friday with local radio host Darren Smith and expressed excitement about playing for the team who originally drafted him in 2001. He has never played at Petco park but said he has heard great things and really thought his speed and bat would play well at Petco.

The Padres now need to complete the infield and fill the hard to replace Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Several sources say the Padres have expressed interest in Derek Lee and Adam Laroche.

Orlando Hudson to sign with Padres

December 17th, 2010

It’s being reported, Orlando Hudson to sign with Padres. The 33 year old 2nd baseman will bring a career 280 batting average, 338 on base percentage and 770 ops to a team that does not currently have a second baseman.

Orlando Hudson brings a solid glove up the middle, a good bat and above average speed. This is a solid player to help sure up the Padres middle infield. He brings leadership and solid skills. It’s being reported that he will receive a two year deal with the potential value of up to eleven and a half million dollars.

The Padres showed some interest in bringing back David Eckstein but Eckstein said that Padres never contacted him. Eckstein battled several injuries the 2nd half of 2009 and the Hudson deal makes them a bit younger at the position this year.

If the Padres are able to make the Jason Bartlet trade they will have significantly improved 2nd base and the shortstop positions offensively and defensively compared to 2010, David Eckstein and Everth Cabrera. Padres GM Jed Hoyer has said he would not mind having Cabrera start 2011 at AAA to help him find his swing and build some confidence.

Denver Broncos fire Josh McDaniels

December 6th, 2010

The Denver Broncos fire Josh McDaniels. The Denver Broncos were led by Josh McDaniels the past two seasons, after a 6-0 start in 2009 the Broncos failed to make the playoffs. Josh McDaniels was relieved of his duties on December 6th, 2010 finishing his coaching career with Denver with a win loss record of 11-16.

McDaniels will likely be replaced by an interim coach but details have not yet been released.

Boston Celtics beat Miami Heat

October 27th, 2010

Opening night of the NBA season saw the Celtics beat the Heat. Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat? Tonight the Boston Celtics beat Miami Heat. Who do you think the team to beat in the East is? Was Miami rusty or the Celtics playing better as a team. It sure seemed like the Heat were off tonight. I would imagine that once the Heat start playing well together they are going to be difficult.

Lebron James, Dwyane Wade

Tonights game was close and the Heat played fairly poorly. Lebron James and Wade looked out of sync at times.

FINAL SCORE

MIAMI 80 – BOSTON 88

Tony Romo Broken Clavicle

October 26th, 2010

Tony Romo Broken Clavicle (Collarbone) is what is being reported. No good for the Cowboys. The injury was the result of a hit by linebacker Michael Boley. He came unblocked and made a clean hit on Romo. News came when Romo was taken to the locker room for an x

-ray. It was eported by ESPN during the Monday night football game against the NewYork Giants.

Treatment usually involves resting the affected extremity and supporting the arm with the use of a sling. Some sources are saying a full recovery can take as long as 6 months.

This is unfortunate news for the Cowboys who are already off to a slow start.

Below is a picture of a broken clavicle from another patient.

File:Clavicle fracture left.jpg