Red Sox deal for Yawkey Way rights flawed, state investigator says

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The 2013 land deal between the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Boston Red Sox that granted the baseball club – among other things – the right to cordon off Yawkey Way on game days was the subject of a scorching 19-page report state Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha sent to BRA Director Brian Golden and made public Monday.

Cunha wrote that the deal, which was initially intended to be a 10-year lease renewal but became a permanent transfer, failed to prove that the easement is in the taxpayers’ best interest, citing inaccurate reporting and unsupported analysis.

The BRA’s “process for reviewing and approving the transactions was flawed,” he wrote, “not supported by evidence and lacked transparency.”

The letter makes seven specific claims of inefficient practices, from unsubstantiated findings of urban blight to a lack of formal approval or public review.

The deal gives the Red Sox the right to occupy Yawkey Way for games and other Fenway Park events throughout the Major League Baseball season, which runs from April to October, for a settled price of $4.87 million paid in 10 annual, interest-free installments.

Including air and underground rights to Lansdowne Street, the figure grows to $7.34 million – the equivalent of approximately $6,000 per event day based on a 120-day event calendar.

“Had the BRA simply extended the ten-year lease that preceded the 2013 transactions,” Cunha wrote, “it would have actually generated more revenue in the long run.”

The third component of the deal was for a section of the Van Ness Street parking lot for additional baseball and event traffic, which prompted Cunha to investigate the transaction.

The letter concludes with six recommendations, such as more precise definitions and dollar thresholds for demonstration projects, concrete evidence of urban blight in the areas in question, and more transparency throughout.

The administration for Mayor Martin J. Walsh does not approve the deal, pointing to the previous 10-year lease as a better model for the city.

The Red Sox released a statement standing by the deal.

“The transactions were fully supported by fair market analysis done by respected outside appraisers and were lawful and entirely appropriate,” the team said.

“The Red Sox ultimately agreed to the final terms very reluctantly.”

Contact Alex Jankowski at [email protected]