League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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We often think of sports as outside the realm of everyday citizen concern. But the many benefits to society that sports can provide are sometimes undermined by a different set of values, often based on the quest for higher and higher profits at the expense of fans, taxpayers, communities, culture and social justice.

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Ralph Nader criticizes majority of Massachusetts Legislature for taxpayer giveaway

Today, Ralph Nader condemned the Massachusetts State Legislature for authorizing a $312 million taxpayer handout for the Boston Red Sox. After little floor deliberation, the Senate passed the bill on July 29th, consummating a last minute backroom deal made by corporate and government leaders. The House of Representatives followed suit hours later.

"The government leaders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston fell to their knees under the weight of this corporate welfare scheme," Nader said. "The State Legislature collapsed right with them and dropped the burden on the backs of the taxpayers as the vote was rushed through with a total lack of respect for the democratic process."

Nader praised the few legislators who resisted the ploy and were willing to raise questions as to the rationale of taking money from public funds where the needs exceed the supply.

"It is encouraging to see that there were a handful of principled Senators and Representatives who refused to broadside the citizens, while the majority were fantasizing about their luxury boxes at future Red Sox games," said Nader.

Nader criticized the corporate role in the formation of the bill itself. "Why did the chief executive from John Hancock and the president of FleetBoston play such a major role in brokering the deal in a private meeting when nobody representing the taxpayers or various citizen groups were permitted to attend?" Nader asked. "This arrangement together with the absence of caution in the legislature is reminiscent of the same ramrod techniques used in the Connecticut Legislature on behalf of the NFL's Patriots recent half billion dollar corporate welfare boondoggle. And we know how that subsequently fell apart."

The final government hurdle for the Red Sox and their business accomplices to clear is the Boston City Council. Currently, the majority of the Boston City Council, reflecting neighborhood organizations and their unmet needs, opposes the ballpark deal but will come under pressure in the coming months from corporate lobbyists and other vested interests for the deal.

"The Boston City Council must not cave like the other lawmakers involved," urged Nader. "It is their duty to stand, take charge and represent the public interest of the citizens of Boston. The Boston City Council will be facing tremendous pressure from developers, bankers, lobbyists and compliant politicians to approve their legally dubious eminent domain plan that would use Boston taxpayer money to deeply disturb the Fenway neighborhood, and evict small businesses."