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DOCUMENTS

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2001

Foul Ball - Part l

FEB 11: Letter to Andy Mick - Publisher of the Berkshire Eagle & President of Berkshire Sports & Events (BS&E)

MAR 21: Second letter to Andy Mick

JUN 11: Open Letter to Pittsfield City Council and BS&E

JUN 22: Berkshire Record Opinion Page: “Wahconah Yes!”

JUN 22: Open Letter to Mayor Doyle and Pittsfield City Council

JUL 5: Pittsfield Gazette Opinion Page: “Change Horses and Ride Fast”

JUL 10: Letter to Cliff Nilan, Parks Commission Chairman

JUL 11: Pittsfield Gazette Opinion Page: “Salting the Earth”

JUL 12: Letter to the Berkshire Eagle - Editorial Rebuttal

JUL 17: Open Letter to Parks, Mayor, and City Council

JUL 24: Response to Mayor Doyle's July 23rd Press Release

AUG 13: Proposal for Wahconah Park and the Future of Professional Baseball in the City of Pittsfield

AUG 13: James Akers’ Color Renderings of Proposed Improvements

AUG 14: Open Mike at Pittsfield City Council - Bouton

AUG 27: Presentation to Park Commissioners

SEP 12: Memo to Park Commissioners & “Tale-of-the-Tape” Comparison

SEP 20: Open Mike at Pittsfield City Council - Bouton

SEP 30: Open Letter to Parks Commissioners

OCT 6: Letter to the Eagle: “Wahconah Park Not Only About Baseball”

OCT 9: Open letter to Parks Commissioners: Response to Conant


2003

APR 15: Documents discovered at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

NOV 8: Bouton statement at National Media Reform Conference in Madison,Wisconsin

Response to Bill Moyers’ Interview:

DEC 1: PublicAffairs Response to the Interview

DEC 1: Bill Moyers' Response to PublicAffairs

DEC 1: General Electric's Response to the Interview

DEC 2: Bill Moyers' Response to General Electric

DEC 4: General Electric's Response to Bill Moyers

DEC 5: Bill Moyers' Response to General Electric

DEC 5: Editorial from the Berkshire Eagle

DEC 5: Letter from Williams & Connolly on behalf of Berkshire Eagle

DEC 8: Letter from Bill Moyers to Mssrs. Singleton and Mick

DEC 8: Letter from Williams & Connolly to PBS

DEC 12: Statement from Bill Moyers

DEC 16: Letter Response from Jim Bouton


2004

Foul Ball - Part ll

JAN 13: Letter of Invitation from the City of Pittsfield

JAN 20: Letter of Acceptance from Bouton, Elitzer & Margenau

JAN 21: Bouton original sketch of 3rd base line stands

MAR 8: License Agreement for use of Wahconah Park

APR 23: 1791 Broken Window Bylaw

JUL 3: Vintage Base Ball Game Poster and Tickets

JUL 3: Wahconah Park Times Game Program

JUL 31: Hartford Senators Vintage Game Poster

AUG 9: Preliminary Initial Public Offering Prospectus - Wahconah Park, Inc.

AUG 13: Bid Protest Decision from the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly

AUG 14: Draft of Revised License Agreement (with proposed changes marked in color: Red - Speranzo.
Yellow - Elitzer)

SEP 4: Vintage Game Poster and Tickets

SEP 4: Wahconah Park Times Game Program

SEP 10: Report and Request to Mayor, City Councilors, and Parks Commissioners

SEP 22: Elitzer’s Email to Mayor Ruberto and Chris Speranzo

OCT 7: Elitzer’s Email Thanking Investors

Cash Flow Summary of Wahconah Park, Inc.

Geographical Breakdown of Investors


February 11, 2001
Letter to Andy Mick - Publisher of the Berkshire Eagle and President of Berkshire Sports & Events (BS&E)


Mr. Andrew H. Mick
The Berkshire Eagle
75 South Church Street
Pittsfield, MA 01202

Dear Andy:

Jim Bouton and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and your BSE colleagues last Wednesday. You have obviously been thinking a lot about the objectives of your ambitious undertaking, and we were impressed with the clarity of your statement that the focus is economic development. In effect, baseball is a means, not an end.

We share your primary objective – economic development – and also your secondary one: keeping baseball in Pittsfield. After consulting with our own group, we believe that we can free BSE to maximize its primary objective by eliminating any uncertainty about the secondary one. We are prepared to state, without qualification, that we can bring a Northern League team to Wahconah Park beginning with the 2002 season, without any cost to the taxpayers.

If environmental hurdles can be surmounted, then we will construct improvements to the ballpark; if not, then we will still build a team that fans will enjoy watching, and create a "must-see" entertainment experience at an historic ballpark that will keep them coming back from all over the Berkshires and beyond.

We believe that the logic of building an indoor arena on the new site instead of an outdoor stadium is compelling for several reasons:

1. Bring a second major professional sport to Pittsfield. Our group is prepared to state unequivocally that we will provide a United Hockey League franchise to serve as BSE's anchor tenant beginning with the 2002-2003 hockey season if the arena is ready in time.

2. Create a year-round facility that will be truly multi-purpose: conventions, trade shows, rock concerts, circuses, ice shows, graduation ceremonies, professional sports (in addition to hockey, other possibilities are arena football, indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, and wrestling), amateur sports (skating, basketball, track, volleyball), and various regional and statewide tournaments at both the high school and the college level.

3. Many of the uses of an indoor arena, such as conventions and trade shows, would bring visitors to the Berkshires for several days at a time during the "off-seasons", significantly leveraging the assets of hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses that have been overbuilt to meet the capacity demands of the summer season.

4. A $22 million, 6,000 seat, 12-month arena ($3,000/seat plus $4 million land acquisition and site development costs) would be more cost effective than a $18.5 million 3-month stadium. Least feasible would be building a new stadium, subsequently acquiring additional land (a fear of some Civic Authority opponents) and then building an arena, for a total cost of at least $40.5 million ($18.5 + $22). Assembling the centrally located site that you have is a tremendous accomplishment. It is more than that: it is a public good. For that land to be used for any purpose other than its highest and best public one would represent an irretrievably lost civic opportunity.

In our view, the sole rationale for building a stadium instead of an arena (in effect, "no new stadium, no baseball") is flawed for two reasons: (1) it contradicts the primacy of the economic development objective, which is clearly better served by an arena, and (2) it presumes that the only baseball worth watching is an affiliated minor league team. We, on the other hand, believe that an independent league team offers more advantages:

1. Team continuity from year to year instead of musical chairs.
2. Local ownership with fans of the team owning stock.
3. Superior quality of play (compared to affiliated "single A") with recently released major and high minor league players.
4. Greater possibility of players going straight to the majors.
5. No conflict of allegiance for local fans of particular major league teams (Yankee fans having to root for Red Sox or Astros farm teams).
6. Favorite players returning from year to year.
7. Greater possibility of local players (Great Barrington's John Raifstanger, retired last year from AA ball, for example).
8. Reduced likelihood of future demands being placed on Pittsfield (such as the NY-Penn League standards that threatened to turn Wahconah into a ghost park).

Finally, we want to address the politics of the proposed referendum. We believe that BSE would not be well advised to wait until after a vote on the Civic Authority before considering and – hopefully – adopting "Plan B" (new arena/old Wahconah):

1. If the referendum passes before any public announcement is made of BSE's support for Plan B, then BSE is virtually locked into the stadium project, which is clearly inferior to the arena as an economic development tool. Any major ex post facto change of plans would be viewed by many voters as "bait and switch".

2. If the referendum fails before any announcement is made of the arena, then it will be practically impossible to return to the voters anytime soon with Plan B. That would be a sadly missed opportunity, because the creation of the Civic Authority is a prerequisite for the construction and operation of any large public facility in that space.

By announcing Plan B well in advance of the vote, a potentially critical number of opponents (not all, but certainly the "Save Wahconah" crowd and the people who oppose a seasonally-limited "white elephant" in the heart of Pittsfield) could be converted into proponents.

Andy, as you know, we're an all-Berkshire group with a strong set of managerial, promotional, and financial skills. With your group's endorsement of Plan B, we're prepared today to begin the process of generating enormous support from baseball and hockey fans (including many who don't know that they're about to become rabid fans) from as far north as Williamstown and North Adams, to as far south as Great Barrington and Sheffield. Pittsfield is the geographic heart of Berkshire County. It can be the emotional and economic heart as well.

Jim and I look forward to meeting with you and your group again at your early convenience.

Sincerely,

Chip Elitzer

CC: T. F. Murphy
M. E. Callahan, Jr.
J. S. Pomeroy
M. Thiessen

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March 21, 2001
Second Letter to Andy Mick


Dear Andy:

Thank you for making the trek south with Mick Callahan to meet with Jim Bouton and me last Wednesday. Although we believe that the arguments in favor of two professional sports teams for the price of one and a year-round arena instead of a 3-4 month stadium are compelling, you clearly do not. We also believe that our plan, if proposed publicly, would bolster rather than threaten a favorable Civic Authority vote, whereas you would prefer us not to "confuse the voters."

After considerable soul-searching – not to mention alternating with each other several times in the role of devil's advocate – Jim and I have decided to respect your wishes and remain silent through the referendum. Your group has invested a lot of time, effort, and money in getting this far, and we cannot be cavalier in taking action that you believe would jeopardize that investment.

We will call you on June 6, either to congratulate you or to suggest serious reconsideration of "Plan B".

Sincerely,

Chip Elitzer

CC: M. E. Callahan, Jr.
J. A. Cunningham, Jr.
T. F. Murphy
J. S. Pomeroy
M. Thiessen

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June 11, 2001
Open Letter to the Pittsfield City Council and BS&E


Gentlemen:

In the aftermath of the Civic Authority referendum, the citizens of Pittsfield face four unresolved issues: What will become of a parcel of prime downtown real estate? What will become of Wahconah Park? How do we continue the tradition of baseball in Pittsfield? How can Pittsfield move strongly onto the path of economic development?

We believe that, while the voters rejected the Civic Authority and the building of a new stadium, they are in favor of economic development and keeping baseball in Pittsfield. We have a proposal.
The baseball objective is relatively simple to achieve. With the City Council's approval and a nominal long-term lease, we believe we can bring an independent Northern League team to Wahconah Park beginning with the 2002 season, without any cost to the taxpayers. If environmental hurdles can be surmounted, we will construct improvements to the ballpark. If not, then we will still build a team that fans will enjoy watching, and create a "must-see" entertainment experience at an historic ballpark that, if properly marketed, will attract fans from all over the Berkshires and beyond.

In our view, a major rationale for building a new stadium — in effect, "no new stadium, no baseball" — was flawed for two reasons: (1) it contradicted the primacy of the economic development objective, which is not well served by a three month stadium, and (2) it presumed that the only baseball worth watching is an affiliated minor league team. We, on the other hand, believe that an independent league team offers more advantages:

1. Team continuity from year to year instead of musical chairs.
2. Local ownership with fans of the team owning stock.
3. Superior quality of play (compared to affiliated "single A") with recently released major and high minor league players.
4. Greater possibility of players going straight to the majors.
5. No conflict of allegiance for local fans of particular major league teams (such as Mets, Red Sox, or Yankees), or having to root for teams with no local connection, such as the Astros.
6. Favorite players returning from year to year.
7. Greater possibility of local players (Great Barrington's John Raifstanger, recently retired from AA ball, for example).
8. Reduced likelihood of future demands being placed on Pittsfield (such as the NY-Penn League standards that threatened to turn Wahconah into a ghost park).

The economic development objective would be met by building an indoor arena on the downtown site instead of an outdoor stadium. We believe that the logic of this proposal is compelling for several reasons:

1. An arena would bring a second major professional sport to Pittsfield. Our group is prepared to state unequivocally that we will provide a United Hockey League franchise to serve as the anchor tenant beginning with the 2003-2004 hockey season if the arena is ready in time.
2. An arena is a year-round facility that would be truly multi-purpose: conventions, trade shows, rock concerts, circuses, ice shows, graduation ceremonies, professional sports (in addition to hockey, other possibilities are arena football, indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, and wrestling), amateur sports (skating, basketball, track, volleyball), and various regional and statewide tournaments at both the high school and the college level.
3. Many of the uses of an indoor arena, such as conventions and trade shows, would bring visitors to the Berkshires for several days at a time during the "off-seasons", significantly leveraging the assets of hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses that have been overbuilt to meet the capacity demands of the summer season.
4. A $22 million, 6,000 seat, 12-month arena ($3,000/seat plus $4 million land acquisition and site development costs) would be more cost effective than the previously planned $18.5 million 3-month stadium.
Acquiring the centrally located site that was originally intended for a new stadium was a worthy accomplishment. For that land now to be used for any purpose other than its highest and best public one would represent an irretrievably lost civic opportunity. We believe a year-round facility maximizes the use of this location, while saving a valuable asset the city already has in historic Wahconah Park.

Although not Pittsfield residents, we're an all-Berkshire group with a strong set of managerial, promotional, and financial skills. With the endorsement of the City Council and the refocusing of Berkshire Sports & Events LLC, we would be prepared to begin. Baseball and hockey fans (including many who don't know that they're about to become rabid fans) will come from as far north as Williamstown and North Adams, and as far south as Great Barrington and Sheffield. Pittsfield is the geographic heart of Berkshire County. It can be the emotional and economic heart as well.

Sports teams can be a magnet for commerce and civic pride, but only if the concept is sound and the citizens are behind it. We are available to meet with you at your early convenience for the beginning of a full public discussion of our proposal.

Sincerely,
Jim Bouton
Chip Elitzer
Eric Margenau

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June 22, 2001
Open Letter to Mayor Doyle and the Pittsfield City Council


Gentlemen:

Following our open proposal of June 11th for keeping professional baseball in Wahconah Park and bringing a minor league ice hockey team to a new arena on the downtown site, we have been asked to describe how we plan to proceed with our primary and immediate interest: baseball at Wahconah.

1. Acquire a long-term lease (or its equivalent) from the City. Proposed term: 30 years, subject to cancellation if we fail to provide a professional baseball team to play in Wahconah Park. (An important component of financing later-stage improvements will be long-term debt, which we will only be able to obtain with a long-term lease. As anyone with a home mortgage knows, a 30-year loan is a lot easier to service than a 15- or 20-year loan.)

Proposed annual rent or fee: $1.00, subject to our maintaining the Park at no cost to the City and making capital improvements exceeding $25,000 annually.


Other uses: Because the City would remain the owner of the Park, we would welcome its continued use by Pittsfield, Taconic, and St. Joseph’s high school football, and by other civic, educational, and recreational groups, consistent with its primary mission of hosting professional baseball.

2. Negotiate the acquisition of an independent league franchise. It will be a Northern League or an Atlantic League franchise. There are currently three dormant Northern League franchises and at least one active franchise whose owners might consider selling. With the long-term commitment for a permanent
home (Wahconah) in hand, we will take advantage of a “buyer’s market” and purchase a franchise on the most favorable terms possible.

3. Invite the citizens of Pittsfield and Berkshire County to be our partners. We will sell substantial ownership in the ball club to individuals and businesses, so that fans can truly say that it is their team. Widespread local ownership will also make it difficult if not impossible for anyone to ever move the team to another
city. Although it is premature to describe the terms of the actual offering, our preliminary thinking is that we would offer 25% to 50% of the team to investor/fans. The proceeds would be used to help build the team and finance initial improvements to the ballpark.

4. Improve the ballpark. Capital improvements would be implemented on a gradual, multi-year basis and would be prioritized according to four sets of considerations: (1) ensuring safety and sanitation, (2) improving comfort and convenience for fans and players, (3) complying with environmental regulations, and (4) economic viability.

Prior to the 2002 season, after fixing unsafe conditions, if any, we would replace the orange-and-blue color scheme with a fresh coat of paint (probably 470 forest green). Our capital project list would include bigger and better restrooms, food concessions, and locker rooms, and abatement of flooding conditions in the parking lot, to be accomplished in phases over several years. After at least two operating seasons, we would expect to have a clear, prioritized list of other capital improvements that would have a major beneficial impact on the fans’
baseball experience. At some point, we would also like to add a walkway museum and Hall of Fame to commemorate and market our historic ballpark.

Our partnership group brings over 15 years of experience in building and running successful minor league sports franchises. Of 14 professional teams currently or previously owned (7 of them baseball), 12 are enduring assets in their original cities. The other two are thriving in new homes after being forced to relocate by affiliated
minor league stadium requirements.

Gentlemen, we look to you now for help in achieving the first step: securing a long-term lease on Wahconah Park. Although we could wait until Labor Day and probably still make the 2002 season, we would benefit greatly from a decision while most of the 2001 season still remains to be played.

Sincerely,

Jim Bouton
Chip Elitzer
Eric Margenau, President

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July 5, 2001
Pittsfield Gazette - Opinion Page
Memo to The Business Community: Change Horses and Ride Fast to Save Wahconah Park


We need your voices, and we need them urgently!

On June 11, in an open letter to the City Council and Berkshire Sports & Events, we made a double-barreled proposal to address the two biggest issues raised by the "Stadium - Yes!" proponents:

1. To the argument, "No new stadium, no baseball," we have answered, "Wahconah - Yes!" and have proposed to bring an independent league team and a better brand of baseball permanently to Wahconah Park - which we will maintain and improve - beginning with the 2002 season, at no cost to the taxpayers.

2. To the argument, "New stadium = economic development," we ask the backers of the new stadium to shift their land, money, and energy to the construction of a 6,000 seat, year-round civic center that would host conventions, trade shows, concerts, and indoor sports. To jump-start this proposal, much like Mr. Bossidy offered to provide a baseball team for a new stadium, we would guarantee to provide a professional minor league hockey team as one of the center's anchor tenants.

We are prepared to acquire a baseball franchise and begin working toward Opening Day 2002 as soon as we have a long term lease on Wahconah Park, independent of any action on a civic center. The timing is urgent, because by the end of the current baseball season, franchise owners and league officials will have begun to lock in plans and schedules for next year. Ideally, we should have a lease in hand by the end of July.

The problem is that we may not get our lease on a timely basis — or another group without a permanent commitment to Wahconah may be granted a short-term lease — because the "Stadium - Yes!" leaders have not yet accepted the voters' "No" as final. The Mayor and most of the City Councilors have told us clearly that they will not consider supporting our Wahconah proposal unless and until they hear from the financial backers of the new stadium that they're "folding their tent." When we asked the President of Berkshire Sports & Events (who is also the Publisher of the Berkshire Eagle) to champion a civic center instead of a new stadium, he told us that the decision rests with his boss in Denver, who owns MediaNews Group, the parent of the Eagle.

We are also told that $18.5 million was pledged for a new stadium ($2 million from the Eagle's parent and the rest from elsewhere, including local business people and public grants) but that it would probably "not be on the table" for a civic center/arena. Why not? A hockey team alone could bring 150,000 visitors to Pittsfield during the "low season".

Arena football would add another 40,000. A new stadium would, at best, bring 50,000 additional baseball fans during the "high season," when most hotels, restaurants, and stores are already at capacity. We ask you, which plan makes more sense to the Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau, Rotary, etc.?

The political "game" in which we are now engaged is not a spectator sport. The people have already spoken. Now it's up to you, the business community, to add to those voices and do the best thing for Pittsfield. Please express your opinion to your business and civic organizations, your City Councilor, your Mayor, and your newspaper editor.

Our proposal will not succeed if the debate devolves into "us versus them." We salute Berkshire Sports & Events and Mr. Bossidy for trying to do something good for Pittsfield. They are some of Pittsfield's most energetic and financially capable individuals. If enough of you encourage them to lead the civic center idea and endorse our lease on Wahconah, they should do so because they will finally hear everyone saying, "Yes!"

Jim Bouton
Chip Elitzer
Eric Margenau

Jim Bouton is a former Yankee pitcher who lives in North Egremont.
Chip Elitzer is an investment banker from Great Barrington.
Eric Margenau is President of United Sports Ventures and owns a home in Stockbridge.

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July 10, 2001
Letter to Cliff Nilan - Parks Commission Chairman


Dear Mr. Nilan:

Based on my conversation with Bob Mellace late last week, I'm assuming that the next meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners will be on Monday, July 23, and that the fate of Wahconah Park will have a prominent place on the agenda.

Given the independent league franchise opportunities that must be pursued before the end of the current baseball season, my partners and I respectfully request that the Commissioners come to that meeting prepared to vote on our proposal for a long term lease or license agreement for the stadium and its parking areas.
The principal points of our proposal are:

1. A 30-year agreement for the nominal sum of $1.00 per year, cancelable by the City if we fail to perform under the terms of the lease at any time, including providing professional baseball each summer season.

2. Our ball club would be responsible for the expense of maintaining the stadium, including any major structural repairs that are or become necessary during the term of the lease.

3. Our ball club would agree to make capital improvements of at least $25,000 annually during the term of the lease. In practice, we expect that amount to be easily exceeded.

4. We would make the stadium and grounds available for other community uses, including high school football, but excluding other season-long baseball leagues.

Why such a long lease? We believe that the City and its citizens are best served by granting us a time frame that enables us to plan projects and financial commitments from the prospective of an owner, not a renter. To use an analogy, whom would you expect to take better care of an historic house for future generations, an owner or someone who was just renting it for a few years?

If your Board approves these principal terms, then we would work with you and the City's attorneys to draft a formal agreement by the end of the month, and to have all necessary and authorized officials execute the agreement with us within a few days thereafter.

Given the strong interest that the citizens of Pittsfield have shown in the fate of Wahconah Park, if the July 23rd meeting and its agenda are publicized in advance we would expect the meeting to be very well attended. We are available to meet with you and any of your fellow Park Commissioners individually or collectively at your convenience to answer questions, address concerns, and entertain possible modifications to our proposal prior to the 23rd.

We do not expect that we will be the only ones making a proposal at the meeting. We would welcome a full discussion of alternative proposals by other groups, and we acknowledge that your Board may choose to endorse a group other than ours.

We believe, however, that we are the only all-Berkshire group with a commitment to keeping professional baseball permanently in Wahconah Park, and that our partnership represents the financial strength and operating experience necessary to make it happen.

In keeping with our policy of making our goals and actions open to public view and comment, we will be making this letter available to media outlets.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Chip Elitzer
Jim Bouton
Eric Margenau

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July 11, 2001
Pittsfield Gazette - Opinion Page
Salting the Earth - by Chip Elitzer


The Berkshire Eagle is breathtaking in its hypocrisy.


An editorial in that newspaper yesterday begins by stating "Neither MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton nor Berkshire Sports & Events ... is impeding proposals to keep baseball at Wahconah Park ... as a South County trio of sports entrepreneurs has charged in a singularly blatant attempt to manipulate city councilors with misinformation."

A news article on the front page of that same newspaper edition reports that, "The $2 million offered by MediaNews Group of Denver for the original stadium would be available for another proposal here, in North Adams, or possibly in South Berkshire County, CEO William Dean Singleton said yesterday."

Let's be very clear about what's happening here. The Denver media baron who owns the Eagle and about 140 other publications (including the North Adams Transcript) through his MediaNews Group knows full well that the Berkshire County market isn't large enough to support two professional baseball teams. By offering to help build a new baseball stadium anywhere in Berkshire County, he is keeping alive the specter of ruinous competition for any group audacious enough to want to keep professional baseball in Wahconah.

Worse, he is threatening to banish professional baseball from Pittsfield forever. Pittsfield has enjoyed a "natural monopoly" on professional baseball in this county for the best part of a century precisely because every other Berkshire town knows that there isn't room for a second team. If Pittsfield fails to provide professional baseball next season, there is a real risk that North Adams, which already has a beautiful classic ballpark, will fill the void, aided and abetted by the owner of the Eagle. If that happens, the same logic of "natural monopoly" will guarantee that Pittsfield will not regain a professional baseball team.

In ancient times, the Romans reserved a special punishment for cities that dared rise up against the power of the Empire. They salted the earth, so that the people could never again grow crops on their once fertile fields. Mr. Singleton is offended that the citizens of Pittsfield rejected his offer to help build a new stadium for them. They will pay the price.

Or will they? The business community and individual citizens could rise up with strong voices and demand that their elected officials and the Board of Park Commissioners respond to our proposal to bring independent league professional baseball permanently to Wahconah Park. We are running out of time to negotiate the acquisition of a franchise for the 2002 season. Today's Eagle reports that "Commission Chairman Clifford J. Nilan yesterday said he does not believe a decision is urgent. The board's next meeting, he said, will be in August."

We had originally hoped to be formally on the Commission's agenda for its July 9th meeting, but that meeting was cancelled. Then we respectfully requested in our letter to Mr. Nilan yesterday that the Board be prepared to act on our proposal at its July 23rd meeting, but now we hear that the meeting will be postponed again to some time in August, and even that meeting may not result in a final decision. By Labor Day, many of our promising opportunities to acquire a baseball franchise will have passed.

We would like the July 23rd meeting of the Commission to take place, and for its principal agenda item – the future of Wahconah Park – to be well publicized in advance. Because of the nature of the issue, we would expect the meeting to be attended by hundreds of citizens, and therefore the meeting should probably be held in a large public space, such as a school auditorium. We would welcome the opportunity to listen to and debate other proposals publicly.

We believe that we are the only all-Berkshire group with a commitment to keeping professional baseball permanently in Wahconah Park at no cost to the taxpayers, and that our partnership represents the financial strength and operating experience necessary to make it happen.

At the Pittsfield Rotary Club luncheon last Thursday, my partner Jim Bouton presented our Wahconah proposal to a group of about 75 business people and asked for a show of hands. All but one person supported Wahconah over a new stadium. At the City Council meeting last night, I did the same thing. About 90% of the audience supported Wahconah. But only Messrs. Bianchi and Guzzo on the Council raised their hands in support of us (Mr. Scapin was absent). Mayor Doyle conspicuously raised his hand when I asked who still supported building a new stadium.

Mayor Doyle and many of the current City Councilors have stated that they are not running for re-election. But they were elected to serve the citizens of Pittsfield to the best of their abilities through their entire term, which doesn't end until December 31st. If we don't get action on our proposal until January 2002, it will be far, far too late to save the 2002 season, and maybe – if the earth has been salted – to save any future baseball season for Pittsfield.

Chip Elitzer

Chip Elitzer is an investment banker who resides in Great Barrington. His partners are former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton, who lives in North Egremont, and Eric Margenau, President of United Sports Ventures, who owns a home in Stockbridge.

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July 12, 2001
Berkshire Eagle - Editorial Rebuttal


Subj: "No hurry on Wahconah Park plan"
Date: 7/12/01 11:21:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: ELITZER
To: WEverhart@berkshireeagle.com

Dear Mr. Everhart:
For such a relatively brief paragraph, your editorial today touches on a lot of issues that deserve comment:

1. "30-year deal": We expect the long-term nature of our proposal to attract a lot of critical attention (I use "critical" in the sense of "close" and "thoughtful", not necessarily "negative"), but we have proposed 30 years carefully. To begin, we have made clear in our proposal to the Commission that we don't expect them to take a 30-year leap of faith. Our retaining the lease, even for one year, would be completely contingent on our providing a professional baseball team to play in Wahconah Park. Our failure to do so, whether in Year 1 or Year 27, would give the Commission the contractual right to cancel our lease, as would our failure on any of the other three principal points that we specified in our proposal.

In practice, the requirement that we provide professional baseball each year of the lease will be wonderfully self-policing. We're not in business to lose money over the long term. The fact that we continue to operate Wahconah Park will necessarily mean that we have successfully attracted more fans to the ballpark than in recent years of affiliated baseball. Why? Because if we don't do better than 2,000 patrons per home game (roughly the average attendance for the recently departed Pittsfield Mets), we will be hard-pressed to reach the breakeven point, and after considering essential capital expenditures we would be operating at a cash deficit. With an affiliated team, the major league club pays for the players, managers, and umpires. With an independent league team, we pay.

However, if we are successful, we will know that we can afford to take a long view on capital expenditures, and not be in the position of having to go back to the Commission every five or ten years to renegotiate our lease or lose it and everything that we would have invested in the Park along the way. That is essential to enable us to be proper stewards of an historic asset that will remain the City's property. For example, we have been told rather gleefully by some new stadium proponents who, like you, describe a "crumbling facility", that the ancient sewer pump could quit at any time, and that the price tag for replacement could be in the neighborhood of $100,000. Likewise, at some point in the next 30 years (and maybe quite soon), structural repairs to the steel support of the grandstands will be necessary. Completed properly, these repairs are meant to last for a long time, far longer than a typical stadium lease. However, a typical stadium lease also makes clear that the owner (usually the city) is responsible for major repairs. If we are going to shoulder the financial burden that would otherwise remain on the City of Pittsfield, as we have proposed to do, we cannot justify such expenditures without a time frame that gives us the prospective of an owner, not a renter. Hence 30 years.

2. "... an independent league baseball team that would exclude other baseball operations, like a collegiate league": We are not opposed to occasional amateur games for civic purposes, or the wonderful summer "camps" that the Pittsfield Mets used to run and that my own sons enjoyed so much. We do believe, however, that sharing Wahconah Park with another season-long league whose season substantially overlaps our own is impractical. I asked Jim Ryan, who called me to explain his collegiate league proposal, if he could cite a single example of this arrangement in another ballpark and he could not. The fact that we would be an independent league team is not relevant to this issue. I would be interested to learn if anyone can cite a successful long term example of a professional baseball team ± affiliated or not ± sharing a ballpark with another baseball league playing a full schedule. We believe that the reason that the Mayor and other new stadium proponents appear to be favorably disposed towards a collegiate league team for Wahconah Park is that it would not compete with their quest for a new professional baseball stadium.

3. "... a group that appears perilously light on financing": This replays an erroneous assertion first made in your editorial of June 26: "The group seeking to bring an independent minor league baseball team to Wahconah Park may want to portray its scheme to sell pieces of franchise ownership as a noble effort to allow fans to 'say that it's their team,' but semantics shouldn't disguise the indication that the group doesn't have the financial wherewithal to make the bid on its own."

In fact, your own Bill Carey got it right in an Eagle article on July 10: "Elitzer ... estimates that the partnership would need $1.5 million to acquire a franchise, build a team and renovate the park by opening day. It hopes to sell public shares in the team but is prepared to go it alone financially if need be, he said."
In conversations with your own reporters and other media, and in my own comments at the City Council "open mike" on June 26 and July 10, I have tried to correct your editorial implication that we're financial lightweights. Our own June 22 "open letter" to Mayor Doyle and the City Council, which you quoted in part in your June 26 editorial, should have given you pause before making such an implication. In that letter we stated, "Our partnership group brings over 15 years of experience in building and running successful minor league sports franchises. Of 14 professional teams currently or previously owned (7 of them baseball), 12 are enduring assets in their original cities. The other two are thriving in new homes after being forced to relocate by affiliated minor league stadium requirements."

I want to be very clear that we do not have to go outside of our own partnership in order raise the $1.5 million that will probably be necessary to get to Opening Day of the 2002 baseball season at Wahconah Park, and we will do so if no local individuals or businesses want to join us. We don't think you should have dismissed us for using "semantics" when we wrote, "... so that fans can truly say that it is their team. Widespread local ownership will also make it difficult if not impossible for anyone to ever move the team to another city." We also disagree with your comparing us unfavorably to Mr. Gladstone (who is taking his franchise to Troy) and Mr. Bossidy (who proposed to buy an affiliated team if others would build him a new stadium). Unlike the partnership of MediaNews Group and Berkshire Bank, which offered $3 million out of a total $18.5 million price tag for a new stadium, our proposal is not contingent on external financing.

4. "Aging Wahconah Park cannot be reconstructed into a modern facility acceptable to the minor leagues ...": True, if "minor leagues" refers to the New York-Penn League. It is not financially practical to do so, and even if it were, we would not want to re-make beautiful old Wahconah into a modern ballpark. Its historic charm and idiosyncrasies (yes, even its "signature" sun delays) are irreplaceable marketing assets. It is, however, well suited to the more flexible stadium specifications of independent leagues, and we will make thoughtful repairs and upgrades to the Park every year of our stewardship. Our proposal to the Commission states that we will spend at least $25,000 a year, and one commissioner told me, "$25,000 would get lost in the parking lot." But this is a minimum contractual requirement that we are proposing to show good faith. As I stated in the first point on the 30-year lease, we are facing expenditures well in excess of that minimum.

By way of comparison, the lease that the Lowell Spinners signed for their new stadium calls for capital expenditures totaling $250,000 over 10 years in place of rent payments (averaging the same $25,000 a year that we're proposing), and their city is responsible for maintaining the exterior and for structural repairs. A 1999 memorandum summarizing a city study conducted after the park had been open for a year stated, "The Single-A Baseball Stadium leases that we have reviewed to date have carried annual rents of $10,000 to $30,000 with the teams assuming very limited game preparation and post-game cleanup obligations. I have concluded that the current arrangement with the Spinners is very advantageous financially to Lowell."

5. "... next year Pittsfield will be without a minor league affiliate for the first time in many years ± a distressing but now unavoidable loss.": Yes, but if the Board of Park Commissioners acts quickly and affirmatively on our proposal, we will still have professional baseball in Wahconah in 2002 and for many years thereafter, without being subject to fickle owners who decamp to a new stadium in a different city, or further tightening of stadium standards by Major League Baseball that might require Pittsfield to spend additional dollars to upgrade even a new stadium in a few years. Furthermore, as my partner Jim Bouton can attest from personal experience, the level of play of independent league baseball is actually superior to affiliated Single A baseball, and independent league ball players have a much greater chance of making (or re-making) the Majors than Single A players. (For a fuller elaboration of the advantages of an independent league team over an affiliated team, see our "open letter" of June 11 that was addressed to the City Council and Berkshire Sports & Events.

6. "There is, however, still a possibility that an affiliated team could find a home in the Berkshires if a new stadium were to be constructed in North Adams, a city that would no doubt welcome the project.": That may be fine for the Berkshires, but it would likely signal the permanent end of professional baseball in Pittsfield, a prospect that should worry the Parks Commission, all elected City officials, and indeed all citizens of Pittsfield. Instead, our proposal is greeted by most of the City's leaders (and the editorial page of the Eagle) with reactions ranging from indifference to hostility. As I argued in my "Salting the Earth" submission to you yesterday (which you understandably declined to publish), the Berkshire market is not large enough to sustain two professional baseball teams. Once Pittsfield cedes its historic "natural monopoly" on professional baseball, it will not be able to regain it. If North Adams fills the void left by an empty Wahconah Park in 2002 (which they could easily do with their own existing Wahconah-like ballpark), neither we nor any other group considering an investment in Wahconah Park for professional baseball will be interested any longer.

We need to have a long-term lease in hand by early August in order not to lose some of our most promising opportunities to acquire an independent league franchise. If we have to wait until Labor Day, our chances for fielding a team for 2002 will be severely compromised. Therefore, we disagree with the very title of your editorial today: "No hurry on Wahconah Park plan".

We understand, although there has not been any public announcement, that at least one other group that already holds a Northern League franchise may have expressed an interest in playing in Wahconah Park, at least until a new stadium becomes available. Such a group would probably accept a short-term lease. Our response to that eventuality, which would probably be supported by the new stadium lobby, is "Easy come, easy go." We believe we are the only group with a commitment to keeping professional baseball permanently in Wahconah, at no cost to the taxpayers. I ask you to consider the points that I have made here with an open mind, and I will consider any rebuttals you wish to offer in the same spirit.

In fact, even as you and I benefit from our own dialog, why not propose to your publisher that the Eagle sponsor a large public debate on the future of Pittsfield baseball within the next week or two? We would be prepared to present our proposal and defend it, and would be delighted to share the stage with representatives of any competing proposals in a real give-and-take format.

Sincerely,
Chip Elitzer

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July 17, 2001
Open Letter to Parks, Mayor, and City Council


Mr. Clifford J. Nilan, Chairman, Board of Park Commissioners
The Honorable Gerald S. Doyle, Jr. Mayor of Pittsfield
Mr. Thomas Hickey, Jr. City Council President

Gentlemen:

Once again, I am writing on behalf of my partners and, we believe, the strong majority of the citizens of Pittsfield, to ask for your support – or at least your prompt consideration – of our proposal for a long-term lease on Wahconah Park. If action is not taken in the next few weeks, we believe that Pittsfield risks losing professional baseball not just for 2002, but permanently.

We do not believe that we are overstating the risk that Pittsfield runs. Consider:

1. The Berkshire market is not large enough to sustain more than one professional baseball team.
2. Pittsfield has enjoyed a "natural monopoly" on professional baseball in this county for the better part of a century precisely because would-be competitors recognize this fact.
3. If Pittsfield fails to field a team for the 2002 season, that will create a void that North Adams may fill with their existing Wahconah-like ballpark.
4. Once North Adams has professional baseball, it is unlikely to relinquish it, and the economic reality of "natural monopoly" will keep us and probably any other group from trying to re-establish baseball in Pittsfield.
5. The only site in Pittsfield that can host professional baseball in 2002 is Wahconah Park.
6. The only group with a proposal to bring a professional baseball team to Wahconah Park in 2002 is the partnership of Jim Bouton, Eric Margenau, and myself. We have proposed to maintain and enhance Wahconah at no cost to the taxpayers.
7. By Labor Day, most existing holders (and potential sellers) of existing independent league franchises will have made plans for the 2002 season, and our options for acquiring a franchise will be limited.

Mr. Nilan, we have not received a reply to our July 10th proposal to you, but we have read in the Eagle that the Board of Park Commissioners will not meet on July 23 as we originally anticipated, and that you do not see any urgency.

Mayor Doyle, you have told us that you will not support any professional baseball proposal for Wahconah until and unless Berkshire Sports & Events "folds its tent." At the City Council meeting last Tuesday night, you raised your hand (among a 10% minority) when I asked who still supports a new stadium.

Councilors, most of you have told me in one-on-one conversations that you will not entertain seriously any alternative proposals until you hear from Berkshire Sports & Events that they're definitely giving up any thoughts of building a new stadium.

The two principal backers of Berkshire Sports & Events have been MediaNews Group (the parent of the Berkshire Eagle) and Berkshire Bank. Yesterday, Jim Bouton and I met with the Editor of the Eagle. He denied emphatically that the owner of the Eagle is trying to block our proposal, and pointed to the "For Sale" sign on the West & Center property as a clear signal that the "Stadium – Yes!" plan is dead. This morning, Jim Bouton and I met with a senior representative of Berkshire Bank, who carefully stated neither support nor opposition to our plan, but told us that Berkshire Sports & Events was being dissolved.

In a front-page article in the Eagle on July 10, MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton was quoted as saying that a new stadium "would work just as well in North Adams, and we own newspapers in both places." Although Berkshire Bank is not making such a suggestion, it also has a public-spirited interest in the well being of other towns and cities in Berkshire County.

However, you gentlemen are all either appointed or elected representatives of the citizens of Pittsfield. We know that each of you, regardless of your future plans for public office, is working diligently to fulfill your duties to the best of your abilities. That is why we are pointing out the peril to Pittsfield's baseball future that further delay entails. That is why we are asking each of you to voice your public support for immediate consideration of our proposal, and to ask each of the other Park Commissioners and City Councilors to do the same.

We are not asking for careless action, but we ask that the process of evaluating our proposal and any alternatives proceed expeditiously. Mr. Nilan, we repeat our request that the July 23rd meeting of the Commission take place, and that it be held in a school auditorium, where a large number of citizens can attend and where TV and radio stations that have already expressed interest can broadcast the proceedings.

We would be prepared to present our proposal in all reasonable detail and to defend it, and we would welcome the opportunity to share the stage with representatives of any competing proposals in a real give-and-take format. Whether the Commissioners choose to take formal action at that meeting is, of course, up to you, but at least you will be able to voice your questions and concerns to us and to the public, and we will be able to answer you publicly to the best of our abilities.

Sincerely,
Chip Elitzer

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July 24, 2001
Response to Mayor Doyle’s July 23 Press Release:
Doyle Meets With Owner of Mad Dogs


The key to understanding the Mayor's publicity of the proposal by Jonathan Fleisig to bring his currently dormant Northern League franchise to Pittsfield is found in this quote in an attached letter from League Commissioner Miles Wolff: "For the long-term success of professional baseball in Pittsfield, we all believe a new stadium is necessary in the future. However, in the short term the Northern League can operate in Wahconah Park until plans for a new facility are finalized."

The meaning is clear. If the citizens of Pittsfield don't eventually build a new baseball stadium, then Mr. Fleisig, a professional bond trader, will take his team to a town that will -- hopefully far away. If the new stadium is built nearby, Pittsfield will have lost not only its treasured Wahconah Park (due to lack of funds to maintain it except while it was being used temporarily by Mr. Fleisig), but also its century-long monopoly on professional baseball in the Berkshires.

As many of you know by now, we don't "all believe a new stadium is necessary" for Pittsfield. My partners and I have proposed to bring an independent Northern or Atlantic League team to play permanently in Wahconah park, at no cost to the taxpayers. If the Northern League is willing to play at Wahconah Park as is, "in the short term," they should be willing to play for the long term in a continuously upgraded and lovingly restored Wahconah Park, which is what my partners and I will do if we succeed in our efforts to get the long term, performance-based lease that we seek -- a lease that can be canceled in any year that we fail to provide professional baseball.

We believe our proposal is supported by a vast majority of Pittsfield citizens: those who voted against a new stadium; those who voted for a new stadium because they believed the (now demonstrably false) slogan "No new stadium - no baseball;" those who voted for a new stadium because they believed the (also demonstrably false) statement that there was no alternative Plan B; those Rotary members who voted 79-1 for us in a show of hands at a July 5 luncheon at which I spoke; the 90% who raised their hands for us after my partner Chip spoke at a City Council open mike session (the other 10% included the Mayor); the growing number of mayoral candidates who understand a winning issue, and countless others who have stopped us on the street to encourage us to keep going. We promise you we are not going away.

This most recent move by the new stadium diehards did not come as a surprise to my partners and me. We knew something was up when the Board of Park Commissioners canceled its July 9th and 23rd meetings, when the Mayor refused to return our calls, and when the Parks Commission Chairman responded to our written proposal with a newspaper quote that there is "no urgency" on Wahconah Park.

What are the options for Wahconah? Here is a list of possible alternatives to our proposal that Chip and I e-mailed last week to the owner of a Pittsfield radio station to help him better understand what might happen next. You'll recognize number 3.

1. Collegiate baseball league franchise: Collegiate baseball has no commitment to Pittsfield and will never be able to make a financial commitment to Wahconah Park. Furthermore, most fans would prefer to watch professional baseball.

2. A NY- Penn League franchise in Wahconah: This would require a temporary waiver by the NY-Penn League, but only for a year or two, in anticipation of a move to a new stadium in Pittsfield or elsewhere. We agree with the argument that rebuilding Wahconah to meet Major League Baseball standards would be prohibitively expensive.

3. Independent league franchise owned by outsiders: There is at least one existing owner of a Northern League franchise who has expressed interest in bringing a team to Wahconah on an interim basis, until a new stadium becomes available either in Pittsfield or elsewhere. He would probably be willing to sign a short-term lease, but would have no commitment to Pittsfield and obviously have no interest in making any expensive long-term repairs or upgrades to Wahconah.

4. Any franchise owned by a partnership that includes local principals tied to former Berkshire Sports & Events people: Their long-term commitment to Pittsfield and Wahconah Park would have to be viewed with the utmost skepticism given the history of this issue.

5. Do nothing: As with the above options, this prevents us from making our long-term commitment to Wahconah Park. While it knocks us out of the box, it also puts Pittsfield at risk of losing professional baseball forever. The City can't afford to maintain Wahconah, so if it misses the 2002 season, professional baseball probably leaves town permanently for North Adams. Without a tenant with the financial means to keep up Wahconah without City funds, then Wahconah ultimately disintegrates.

All of the above "options" have the same common denominator: no long term commitment to Wahconah Park -- a stake in the heart of any new stadium proposal - and would therefore be acceptable to the Mayor and new stadium diehards. Only our proposal offers the commitment to Wahconah desired by the vast majority of citizens.

We call on the mayoral candidates to state their position on our proposal as a clear signal to the voters and current elected officials that they understand and respect the wishes of the people.

Jim Bouton

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August 14, 2001
Open Mike at Pittsfield City Council - Jim Bouton

My partner Chip Elitzer and I have 6 minutes between us. How about I take up 4 minutes and Chip takes the night off. We just saved you 2 minutes.

I want to address three points with respect to our proposal last night before the Parks Department.

#1. With respect to exclusive control of Wahconah Park. All activities that have previously taken place can continue to take place. We have no intention of preventing high school sports, including baseball, from using the Park, and any moneys made by high school sports will, of course, belong solely to them.

Any confusion that may exist about other details of the lease can be worked out in negotiations with the Parks Department or City Council. We believe there is no problem that cannot be solved to our mutual satisfaction.

#2. With respect to the fact that we do not currently own a baseball team. This is precisely why we should have your support. If we already owned a team, and for some reason were not able to obtain a lease for Wahconah Park, we'd have to go shopping for a place to play, like Mr. Fleisig has been doing for the past two years.

Our partnership has been in negotiations with the President of the Atlantic League and the owner of a dormant franchise in the Northern League. Both leagues are in need of an eighth team to balance their schedules. If we have the long term lease we are seeking for Wahconah Park, we can bargain for the best deal for Pittsfield. Otherwise a league or owner will dictate to you, like the Northern League is assigning you Jonathan Fleisig.

In short, Pittsfield will control its own destiny with respect to professional baseball and Wahconah Park only if it has its own, locally owned team willing to make a substantial investment in the Park.

#3. If we’re going to make long term investments in Wahconah Park we need a long term agreement. That’s how real estate works. It’s not a mystery. You have all the proof you need right here with Wahconah Park. Since 1919, with short term leases, no team owner has ever made significant capital improvements. In fact the town has made them just to keep the team.

Don’t you see that this is an opportunity to reverse that?

Our partnership is offering Pittsfield something it’s never had before - and something it’s unlikely to ever see again. No team in America has ever made this kind of promise to a city. We are guaranteeing the following:

1. Professional baseball next year and every year.
2. At least $250,000 invested in Wahconah Park before opening day.
3. At least $25,000 spent every year thereafter.
4. We will assume responsibility for all maintenance and repairs ordinarily paid by the city ($500,000 over the past 5 years).
5. We will share the Park with any activities that have previously taken place.

And if we don’t perform, you cancel the agreement. How can you lose?

Now I should say the rest of this on bended knee. Wahconah Park, we love you. We don’t want to use you for a few years like all the others. We want to marry you. If you turn us down you’ll break our hearts, and yours as well, in the long run.

I’d like to add this to our proposal. Thank you.

Jim Bouton

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August 27, 2001
Presentation to Park Commissioners

By Jim Bouton and Chip Elitzer

As we did two weeks ago when we and our fellow petitioners made formal presentations of our proposals to you for Wahconah Park, we thank you for your diligent volunteer work as the people who ensure that Pittsfield's many parks are well cared for and well used. It is an important public trust, and one that we know you do not take lightly. It is also often a thankless task, and so we want to take this occasion to thank you publicly.

At the last meeting of this group, Chairman Nilan announced that the Board's recommendation on Wahconah Park would be decided at its next meeting, originally scheduled for last Monday, but postponed until tonight. Now we hear that the decision may be postponed until October, in light of Mr. Bossidy's renewed interest in a new stadium.

We ask the Board to abide by its original intent and render a decision tonight. You may have personal preferences with respect to a new, privately-financed stadium, but the new stadium issue is not one that concerns you as Park Commissioners; the well-being of Pittsfield's public parks is your charge.

You do not, therefore, have to wait to see how Mr. Bossidy fleshes out his proposal, because you already know that he proposes to leave Wahconah Park as soon as a new stadium can be built. You also know that Mr. Fleisig has the same intention, because his Northern League Commissioner, Miles Wolff, wrote to Mayor Doyle, in support of Mr. Fleisig, that "we all believe a new stadium is necessary in the future. However, in the short term the Northern League can operate in Wahconah Park until plans for a new facility are finalized."

We are the only group with a long-term commitment to Wahconah Park, both financial and emotional. Our financial commitment will exceed $4 million over the next 30 years, probably by a lot. Consider:

$250,000 - by Opening Day 2002, and probably more.
$750,000 - over the next 30 years ($25,000 x 30) and probably more.
$3,000,000 - over the next 30 years ($100,000 x 30), based on the average annual expenditures by the City of Pittsfield over the past five years. Inflation alone will almost certainly drive this number much higher as the years go by.

You have stated your concern that Wahconah Park be kept open and available for all of its other traditional uses, such as high school sports, and we agree. If professional baseball leaves the Park, who will be able to afford to maintain it for those uses?

The City of Pittsfield? Even if Pittsfield were financially solvent, why should it spurn the offer to be relieved of a major financial burden, when funds could thereby be freed up for other uses such as schools, public safety, and street lights? Or to improve other city parks?

Mr. Bossidy or Mr. Fleisig? Even if they were to offer to subsidize Wahconah Park after moving into a new stadium, they would have to set up a sizable trust fund to ensure funding after they "shuffled off this mortal coil" (or off to a new city).

If you have any remaining doubts about our proposal, we are here to address them now. We are confident that all issues can be resolved. Two weeks ago we were the only group to present a marketing plan and a facilities plan as part of our proposal, but no element of either plan is being presented to you as non-negotiable, nor are the details of our proposed lease or licensing agreement.

As we stated two weeks ago, the three most important attributes of a new business venture are management, management, and management. Our partnership has owned and operated seven successful minor league baseball franchises. Neither Mr. Fleisig nor Mr. Bossidy can claim even one.

We realize that what we have proposed is unprecedented, and therefore you have been right to examine us closely: 100% private funds to restore and improve a public ballpark to house a 100% locally owned professional baseball team that cannot be moved to another city. This will be a "first" in America, a great distinction for Pittsfield, and the decision is in your hands.

Note: Following this presentation, Tom Murphy asked the Board to approve Mayor Doyle's request to defer its decision until October 5th, which request was approved unanimously by the five Commissioners.

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September 30, 2001
Open Letter to Park Commissioners


Mr. Clifford J. Nilan, Chairman
Ms. Sue P. Colker
Mr. James S. Conant
Mr. Anthony G. Massimiano
Mr. Robert J. Smith
Board of Park Commissioners
874 North Street Pittsfield,
MA 01201

Lady and Gentlemen:

In advance of the public hearing tomorrow night and the important recommendation that you will be making this week with respect to Wahconah Park and the future of professional baseball in Pittsfield, my partners and I are submitting this letter as an update to our proposal. This update relates to two key areas of our proposal: (1) the proposed terms of our contract with the City of Pittsfield, and (2) the status of our negotiations with the Atlantic and Northern Leagues.

The Contract

Whether it is a lease or a license agreement or some other form of agreement, it will be a binding contract between the City of Pittsfield and the LLC to be formed by Jim Bouton, Eric Margenau, and myself. Some concern has been expressed by several of you that our proposed 30-year term is too long. We would be pleased to sign a two-year contract, renewable annually thereafter at our option as long as we are in compliance with the performance terms of the contract:

1. We have provided season-long professional baseball at Wahconah Park.

2. On a cumulative basis from the beginning of our original contract, we have spent on maintenance, repairs, and upgrades an amount equal to $100,000 times the number of years we have occupied Wahconah Park, plus $100,000. For example, at the end of our original two-year contract, we must have spent at least $300,000 (including our commitment to spend at least $250,000 by Opening Day 2002) in order to renew the contract for one more year; at the end of ten years, we must have spent at least $1,100,000 in order to renew the contract for one more year.

By way of comparison, this arrangement would be more than four times more favorable to Pittsfield than the lease that the Spinners have with Lowell for the use of their new stadium. The Spinners' 10-year lease calls for payments in lieu of rent totaling $250,000. By way of clarification, we reiterate our position that Wahconah Park under our stewardship will never cost the Parks Department a dime. That means that Mr. Bossidy's incredibly generous gift can be used entirely for Pittsfield's other parks as you deem appropriate.

3. We have made Wahconah Park available for all reasonable uses, including all current uses, such as high school sports. As we have stated previously, we believe that Wahconah Park has been an underutilized City asset, and we will seek to have it be more fully utilized for the benefit of the citizens of Pittsfield.

The League Negotiations

As you know, the Atlantic League has previously asked us to play the 2002 season as their eighth team. They are in the process of forming the 2002 schedule during the first two weeks of October, and are faced with two choices: (1) If they can count on our Pittsfield team in Wahconah Park, they will create a 140-game schedule, in which the other seven teams play 73 home games each, and Pittsfield plays 49 home games (beginning in June), or (2) if they do not see a clear decision by the Parks Commission and Mayor Doyle in our favor during this next week, they will repeat the 2001 schedule of 126 games, in which each of the seven teams plays 72 home games, and the League bears the expense of an eighth "always traveling" team.

Our opportunity to play in the Atlantic League under this special schedule is a "once-in-a-lifetime" situation that will not be available to us in 2003. We are negotiating the terms of an option to buy a permanent membership in the League (with a normal schedule of 70 home games) in the event that (1) a short-season Atlantic League division currently under consideration is not formed by the end of the 2002 season, or (2) we have not purchased a franchise in the Northern League.

As long as Pittsfield remains open to Jonathan Fleisig's proposal, Northern League Commissioner Miles Wolff will remain faithful to him. Two months ago, we had negotiated the purchase of another dormant franchise in the Northern League for $450,000 but were informed that we would not be able to play it in Pittsfield because of the Fleisig bid. Before reviving that offer, Jim Bouton wrote a letter to Miles Wolff on August 25th, concluding with these words:

"While Fleisig is tied to the Northern League and we are not, Fleisig has no chance of winning and we do, since we are backed by the vast majority of Pittsfield citizens. Your immediate endorsement of our group and Wahconah Park will enable us to negotiate with a dormant Northern League team. We are your only shot at the Pittsfield market, but time is running out."

On September 2nd, Miles Wolff replied to Jim: "While I certainly recognize the logic of your argument, I must continue to support Jonathan Flesig's [sic] efforts to place his Northern League franchise in Pittsfield. He has worked hard to be in Pittsfield and wants to continue his efforts.

We realize that Pittsfield is a long-shot for the Northern League, and we are looking at other options for 2002. Good luck in your efforts."

Pittsfield has an unprecedented opportunity to do what no other community has ever done before -- take control of its baseball destiny. Instead of having a league or an owner dictate to the city who will play there or what terms must be met for the team to stay, Pittsfield can -- by granting us the Wahconah Park contract -- assure that an all-Berkshire group will negotiate with both leagues to secure the best possible deal for the city.

If we can conclude our negotiations with the Atlantic League successfully (which is contingent on your prompt and favorable decision on our behalf), the Pittsfield team will play its special short season of 49 home games in the Atlantic League in 2002, but will have the enviable choice of either independent league as a permanent home from 2003 forward.

If you are not able to make a prompt decision in our favor, the Atlantic League will lock in the 126-game schedule that does not include Pittsfield, and that option will disappear. However, we will still have a viable proposal on the table into January, 2002, because a later decision to grant us the Wahconah contract would still enable us to field a team in the Northern League.

We await your decision and the Mayor's action on that decision and, as always, we remain available to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Sincerely,
Chip Elitzer

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October 6, 2001
Letter to the Berkshire Eagle:
“Wahconah Park Not Only About Baseball”


Jonathan Fleisig is wrong that we should all come together for the good of baseball.

Not living here, he is perhaps unaware that the continuing acrimony long ago ceased to be primarily about baseball, but rather about the chronic flouting of democratic process.

We will not be "enablers" of the repeated bashing of democracy in Pittsfield. We will not lend credence to the excuse that the Park Commissioners' rejection of our proposal for Wahconah Park had anything to do with its deficiencies.

It has everything to do with the arrogance of power.

Jonathan Fleisig - wittingly or unwittingly - abetted that arrogance by placing his cause firmly in the hands of three people, rather than in the hearts of the public. Those three people were Mayor Doyle, who signaled publicly his preference for the Fleisig proposal to his five handpicked Park Commissioners; Miles Wolff, who blocked our tentative agreement to acquire another dormant Northern League franchise by giving Fleisig an "exclusive" on Pittsfield; and Mike McDonald of Cain Hibbard Myers & Cook, who ably represented his client Fleisig.

On September 30th we wrote to the Park Commissioners: "Pittsfield has an unprecedented opportunity to do what no other community has ever done before ñ take control of its baseball destiny. Instead of having a league or an owner dictate to the city who will play there or what terms must be met for the team to stay, Pittsfield can - by granting us the Wahconah Park contract - assure that an all-Berkshire group will negotiate with both leagues to secure the best possible deal for the city."

Now that Mr. Fleisig has received the Park Commissioners' unanimous endorsement, the Atlantic League will promptly lock in its 2002 schedule without Pittsfield. However, we believe that we could still secure a Northern League franchise if Mayor Doyle informed Miles Wolff that the final decision, which rests with the Mayor, is for the Bouton group.

In declaring their decision, the Park Commissioners focused on their discomfort with various aspects of our proposal, rather than on any advantages offered by the Fleisig proposal beyond mere possession of a Northern League franchise. Yet for the past four months, we’ve stated repeatedly that nothing in our proposal is non-negotiable, and that we are available to answer any questions and address any concerns. Beginning with our first letter to him on July 10th and continuing through our most recent letter to him and his fellow Commissioners on September 30th, Chairman Nilan has failed to answer any of our letters or return any of our phone calls.

Mayor Doyle, we call upon you now to bestow upon Pittsfield a legacy of healing. Given public sentiment, our withdrawal at this point would not suffice to quell the discord. You are the only person capable of ending the rancor between now and January.

Overrule your own Commission and back the people's choice.

Jim Bouton, North Egremont
Chip Elitzer, Great Barrington
Eric Margenau, Stockbridge

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October 9, 2001
Open Letter to Park Commissioners: Response to Conant


Mr. Clifford J. Nilan, Chairman
Ms. Sue P. Colker
Mr. James S. Conant
Mr. Anthony G. Massimiano
Mr. Robert J. Smith
Board of Park Commissioners
874 North Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Lady and Gentlemen:

Mr. Conant's letter to the editor that was published in the Eagle yesterday, "The facts pointed to Fleisig," is so replete with misstatements and distortions that I feel compelled to respond. I had hoped to discuss it courteously and privately with him, but he has left me a stern message not to call him at home or at work.
What follows are "facts" from his letter, followed by my explanation of the truth.

1. "Mr. Fleisig owns a team in the Northern League that is ready to play at Wahconah Park." Mr. Fleisig's team has been defunct for two years. He holds a piece of paper that gives him the right to play in the League if he can build a team and negotiate a contract to use a ballpark.

2. "Mr. Bouton's group has no team." Neither group has hired any ballplayers for next season, but our group has a head start in that our partner Eric Margenau, a full-time minor league sports entrepreneur, and his team at United Sports Ventures are currently running seven sports franchises, including a AA affiliate of the Padres. Mr. Fleisig is a full-time commodities trader. Eric has owned and run seven baseball teams, all successfully. Mr. Fleisig has had only one, a failure.

3. ". . . no [indication] that Mr. Bouton's group could purchase a team for the next baseball season at Wahconah Park." Cliff Nilan and Curt Preisser placed separate calls to the CEO of the Atlantic League last week and received confirmation from him that our group in Wahconah Park was welcome to field a team and play in that league for 2002. Beyond 2002, we were confident that we could purchase a franchise in either the Atlantic League or the Northern League, and were prepared to make a permanent commitment to stay in Wahconah Park. Mr. Fleisig has not expressed any willingness to sign a contractually binding commitment to stay in Pittsfield, and could, in fact, move to another city with no penalty after a year or two.

4. "Mr. Bouton's group continually proclaimed their 'performance-based' license agreement as to why their proposal was the best and how it would protect the city from future investment at Wahconah Park. I never saw such a document. How can I make a decision to vote on such an agreement when I can't read it?" We might ask why it should be necessary to "protect the city from future investment." However, Mr. Conant's remark shows that he is unfamiliar with how agreements are negotiated in the real world. We first laid out all of the principal terms of our proposed agreement in our July 10th letter to Mr. Nilan, and stated, "If your Board approves these principal terms [on July 23rd], then we would work with you and the City's attorneys to draft a formal agreement by the end of the month, and to have all necessary and authorized officials execute the agreement with us within a few days thereafter."

5. "Mr. Bouton's insistence on a 30-year 'exclusive license' was too demanding. The Parks Commission would have no say in how any function (more than baseball games) would be used at Wahconah Park." Mr. Conant apparently failed to read our September 30th letter to you, the Park Commissioners, in which we stated, "Some concern has been expressed by several of you that our proposed 30-year term is too long. We would be pleased to sign a two-year contract, renewable annually thereafter as long as we are in compliance with the performance terms of the contract."

Those performance terms included making Wahconah Park "available for all reasonable uses, including all current uses, such as high school sports. As we have stated previously, we believe Wahconah Park has been an underutilized City asset, and we will seek to have it be more fully utilized for the benefit of Pittsfield."

6. "The Parks Commission would be prohibited from entering into such an agreement by state law." Mr. Conant goes on to say that it couldn't be done without approval of the state legislature. Such approval could be obtained, but as Mr. Nilan said prior to the Board's endorsement of Mr. Fleisig last Thursday, the Commissioners did not want such approval. Seen in this light, "prohibited . . . by state law" is simply a frail excuse — not a reason — for the Commissioners' decision.

7. "Under this 30-year agreement high school sports would only be allowed at the Bouton group's convenience. On August 13, they also stated that 'all revenues derived from the use of the park by others will belong to the license holder and not to the city.' Apparently in this case, high school game revenue would not go to the school athletic department or team booster club." Unfortunately, this propaganda technique, known as "The Big Lie," is often effective in smearing the target. We have already heard that several youth sports coordinators are angry with us for proposing to confiscate their revenues.

In fact, the city sometimes requires payment from private groups who wish to use its parks for their own purposes, usually to help defray the costs associated with hosting the event and cleaning up afterwards. Our point was simply that if we were going to pay all expenses associated with running Wahconah Park, whether or not connected to baseball, as we offered to do and would be required to do under our proposed contract, any miscellaneous revenues that would ordinarily have been paid to the city for "rental" of the Park would be fairly paid to us, not to the city. Any suggestion that we proposed to take revenues currently retained by high schools was misinformed at best and a deliberate lie at worst, and if we had attempted to do so would have violated our own proposed contract terms to use Wahconah Park.

8. "These additional structures [not-so-luxury boxes and Taste of the Berkshires food court] are not a priority in terms of what needs repair at the park. I also believe that the historic quality of the grandstand would have been destroyed with these modern day gimmicks." For true lovers of historic Wahconah Park such as ourselves to be lectured by a new stadium die-hard is ironic. Furthermore, Mr. Conant has apparently forgotten these passages from our August 17th letter to the Commission:

"A second concern that you may have . . . is the feasibility of certain capital improvements that we have proposed in our facilities plan for the Park, such as resurfacing the parking lot or constructing "not-so-luxury boxes." We respectfully submit the following points for your consideration:

i. Any permanent modifications that we propose now or in the future to the City's property must, of course, be subject to the City's review and approval, including consideration of environmental regulations and engineering feasibility. Vetting of any such item in our proposal is not necessary prior to our signing a long-term agreement with the City, and should not be cause for delay.

ii. Wahconah Park is a "fixer-upper's dream." If any of our proposed improvements prove to be unfeasible, we will have no problem finding other valid ways to spend at least $250,000 on the Park before Opening Day 2002, and therefore have no reservations about making that contractual commitment."

9. "The information given by Bouton on Sept. 13 stated an estimate that Bouton's group would spend another $100,000 per year if needed. The fact is this is just an estimate. Nothing is guaranteed after the original stated financial commitment [$25,000 a year]." Once again, Mr. Conant reveals his ignorance of our September 30th letter to him and the other Commissioners in which we proposed that our contract, which would be subject to annual review, could not be renewed for even one more year without demonstrating that we had spent on maintenance, repairs, and upgrades $100,000 a year plus $100,000. "For example . . . at the end of ten years, we must have spent at least $1,100,000 in order to renew the contract for one more year."

10. Mr. Conant's letter criticizes our supporters as "disrespectful and rude" and congratulates himself "as a gentleman." Then he stoops to blatant demagoguery: "If the Bouton group was given control of Wahconah Park as the council member trio has demanded, the park would not be free for use for our children or for the citizens of Pittsfield for an event such as a candlelight vigil, as was recently held at the park. … I have no obligation to sell off our parks to the highest bidder for their own personal financial gain."

Again, to quote our August 17th letter to the Commission: "The Board of Park Commissioners should not — and probably cannot, legally — cede the City's ultimate authority over what happens at Wahconah or any of Pittsfield's other parks. In the case of Wahconah, we are asking the City to delegate to us, through a carefully negotiated contract, the role of custodian. Just as we are willing to assume the City's future financial obligations with respect to maintenance and repair ($500,000 over the past five years), we need to have the delegated authority to manage the use of the Park in the best interests of Pittsfield. Insisting on responsibility without authority is almost never a good idea."

Commissioners, your self-righteous tone and your insistence that the selection process was fair are an insult to Pittsfield's citizens. Your "facts" and "reasons" are myths and excuses. The only advantage that you stated for Jonathan Fleisig was his mere possession of a Northern League franchise, a piece of paper that we were denied by his league as long as you kept Mr. Fleisig in the running.

My partners and I believe that the real reason you chose Mr. Fleisig was that we had stated that we were forever loyal to Wahconah and would not play in a new stadium even if one were built. Mr. Fleisig, on the other hand, was safely noncommittal after he was informed that he had won the right to play in Pittsfield: "Do I think playing is a new stadium is great? Sure, it's a great idea. But for the people who read this, I'm here for Wahconah Park."

Neither you nor Mr. Fleisig ever made his written proposal public. We have been told, however, that his proposal explicitly contemplates a new stadium after he plays in Wahconah Park for several years. Since when did the Board of Park Commissioners morph into the Civic Authority?

Barring an improbable last-minute reprieve by Mayor Doyle, we are resigned to the fact that he will sign a Wahconah agreement with Jonathan Fleisig, a binding contract that may not be reversible by the new administration in January.

We were hoping for an early end to "business as usual." The hope is still alive, but it will have to wait.

Sincerely,
Chip Elitzer

Note: You can refresh your memories regarding our full written proposal and all related letters. Five of these letters were addressed to Mr. Nilan or all of you as a group, and we repeatedly emphasized that nothing in our proposal was non-negotiable. We learned of some of your concerns by reading comments in the Eagle, but Mr. Nilan never answered any of our letters or phone calls. That certainly suggests that you were more interested in playing "Gotcha!" than in a fair and orderly search for the best proposal.

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Jim Bouton - Opening Statement
National Media Reform Conference - Nov. 8, 2003

As we all know, if you’re going to fight a war, you need to have good intelligence. You need to know the enemy - how they operate and how they think. That’s why I’m here today - to tell you about a personal experience I had that may be of some help in the battle for media reform.

It all began in a ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

You are no doubt familiar with America’s most costly hostage crisis, perpetrated by the owners of professional sports teams: “Build us a new stadium,” they warn, “or you’ll never see your team again.”

That’s what happened in Pittsfield. The owner of the local minor league team left town to play in a new stadium in Troy, New York. The new stadium, by the way, is named Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, in honor of the state senate majority leader. It’s not known how much consideration, if any, was given to the name Taxpayer Stadium.

After the team owner announced that he’d be leaving Pittsfield, the Berkshire Eagle, the city’s only daily newspaper, began beating the drums for a new baseball stadium - to be built, coincidentally, on property owned by the Berkshire Eagle.

The only problem was that the people of Pittsfield didn’t want a new stadium; they had already voted against it several times. What they wanted was their beloved Wahconah Park - one of the oldest ballparks in America, and nationally known as “a great baseball cathedral.”

Hello new stadium, goodbye Wahconah Park.

That’s when my partners and I came up with a revolutionary plan: We would renovate the old ballpark with private money, and provide a fan-owned professional team that would never leave town. Pittsfield, unlike most other communities, would control its own baseball destiny.

You’d think this would be a no-brainer. But you would be wrong.

In June of 2001, immediately after going public with our plan, we were attacked by the Berkshire Eagle. “Should the city embrace this idea,” read a typical editorial, “it would once again be selling itself short.”

Subsequent editorials declared that the Bouton group “is perilously light on financing,” and “has no plan.” The Eagle’s editor, David Scribner, called us “carpetbaggers” - even though we live in the same county as the ballpark. The Eagle never called us to confirm, or respond to, their charges and innuendoes.

The people of Pittsfield know a lot about charges and innuendoes from the Berkshire Eagle. After the most recent vote against a new stadium the Eagle denounced the citizens as “naysayers,” who “have doomed a piece of downtown real estate to continued decay.” Real estate, remember, that is owned by the Eagle.

It turned out that the Eagle owned more than just the land on which a new stadium would be built. It also owned the City Council. Councilor James Massery said they couldn’t consider our proposal “unless Andy Mick releases us.” Andy Mick is the publisher of the Eagle.

And what about Andy Mick? “It’s not my decision,” he said. “The guy you have to convince is my boss in Denver.” That would be Dean Singleton, owner of the Colorado based MediaNews Group which owns the Eagle.

An historic ballpark soon to be abandoned, a newspaper at war with its readers, a government beholden to a publisher, and the shots are being called by a guy in Denver? It was about this time that I began taking notes.

The result is a book entitled Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark. Unintentionally, it’s a case study of what can happen when a distant media conglomerate owns the only daily newspaper in town. It’s also about the difficulty of publishing a controversial book.

I don’t have time to detail the many levels of media malfeasance. I’ll give you just a few. For ease of recall, I’ve named them.

1. Salting the earth. As our plan for Wahconah Park caught on with the public, the tone of the Berkshire Eagle grew increasingly angry. Things reached a peak on July10, 2001 with a front page story that said MediaNews Group owner Dean Singleton would support a new baseball stadium anywhere in Berkshire County; it didn’t have to be Pittsfield. Singleton was quoted as saying, “a new stadium would work just as well in South County, or even in North Adams, and we own newspapers in both places.”

The meaning was clear. Since Berkshire County can support only one team, Pittsfield’s punishment for voting against a new stadium would be to lose professional baseball forever. The city’s natural monopoly - which it has enjoyed for eighty-two years - would be given to another city by its own hometown newspaper.

As my partner said, “It’s like what the Romans used to do whenever another city challenged the empire. They would salt the earth so people could never grow crops again.”

Caligula was a new-coliseum backer, as I recall.

2. Toxic Waste. From the beginning, I wondered why the Berkshire Eagle would insist on spending $18.5 million of mostly taxpayer dollars on a baseball stadium instead of an indoor arena, or a civic center. “Build another reason for people to visit Pittsfield,” my partners and I had said. “We’ll take care of the baseball fans at Wahconah Park.”

Since Pittsfield was once the home of General Electric, I wondered if the new stadium site might be a toxic waste dump. A ball field would make a good band-aid - a band-aid over a tumor. An arena, on the other hand, would go deep into the ground, exposing a liability that could run into the millions.

It was a not-so-lucky guess.

Shortly before Foul Ball went to press, a document called a Release Notification Form was found at the Department of Environmental Protection in Springfield, Massachusetts. It stated that the new stadium site was polluted with toxic oils sufficient to qualify it as “a disposal site.”

The Release Notification Form, signed by Eagle publisher Andy Mick, is dated January 12, 2001. That was five months before the public would vote for or against a new stadium. Had the vote been in favor of a new stadium, the liability for a cleanup would have passed from the Berkshire Eagle to the citizens of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

And the Eagle never told anyone that the property was polluted. The first public notice of the Release Notification Form occurred in my book - an exact copy of the document appears on page 360. Only after the book came out did the Eagle acknowledge the pollution. But not the fraud.

It wasn’t always like this at the Berkshire Eagle. When it was locally owned, it had a great reputation. In the 1990s, reporter Theo Stein was a prize winning journalist who covered the illegal dumping of PCBs by General Electric. It was Stein’s reporting that forced the EPA and GE to even consider doing something about the problem.

Where is Stein today? He was offered a college fellowship out west, and now he’s working for the Denver Post, another MediaNews Group paper. Did Stein’s fellowship opportunity, which pulled him off the GE story at the height of the controversy, raise questions among environmentalists? “We lost the most knowledgeable man in the field,” said a local leader. “Since then, the Eagle has not turned up anything.”

In some communities, a free press is about a lot more than baseball stadiums.

3. Censorship. You might be interested to know that Foul Ball almost didn’t get published. I had signed a contract with PublicAffairs. They said it would be their lead book of the spring. A nationwide tour was planned. Then the president of PublicAffairs, Peter Osnos, invited me to lunch and told me I would need to get balancing comments from General Electric. I said I didn’t get balancing comments from Major League Baseball when I wrote Ball Four, and I wasn’t going to get them from GE.

That’s when Osnos told me that “the top lawyer for General Electric” was a friend of his, and that this lawyer was about to become a partner in PublicAffairs. A week later, the editor with whom I’d been working told me I had to remove all references to pollution and General Electric.

I refused, and demanded a termination letter. But they wouldn’t give me one. Finally, I had to hire a lawyer to get it, and by that time it was too late for another publisher to bring out the book this spring, as planned.

So I had to publish it myself.

Now they’re threatening a lawsuit to get their advance back. You’d think they would be embarrassed. And maybe they are. While I was trying to get my termination letter, the lawyer for PublicAffairs told my agent I could keep half my advance if I promised not to say why I was leaving PublicAffairs. I don’t know what my price is for silence, but I know it’s not $25,000.

4. Marginalization. What happens with self-published books? For one thing, the print runs are smaller because you have to finance them yourself. Then they don’t get reviewed by the major media, which has a policy against reviewing self-published books. So it’s a tough haul.

But it’s a lot better than getting “privished.” That’s an industry term that describes how publishers kill off books without authors’ awareness or consent. For more about “privishing” you need to read a book called Into The Buzzsaw by Kristina Borjesson.

How do publishers get away with this? No competition. The industry is controlled by about five companies, or so-called “groups” of imprints, each one under a corporate parent, which itself is part of a larger conglomerate - some of them media conglomerates.

Which brings me back to the beginning.

A free press has powerful enemies. We need to fight them on several fronts. And we need to stay the course.

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September 22, 2004
Elitzer’s email to Mayor Ruberto and Chris Speranzo


Jimmy and Chris,

I wanted to pass along this comment from Jim, and to add my own two cents. Today’s Eagle editorial is once again blaming “City Hall and the private partnership . . . for not knowing, or ignoring, the fact that the state’s competitive bidding laws applied . . .”

Instead of allowing the perjorative phrase “circumventing the public bid laws” (which is not used in this editorial but has been amply used elsewhere) to go unchallenged, we should be pointing out that it is the unions who are trying to “overinflate the public bid laws” to apply them where they were never intended.

Jim is right in pointing out that at our meeting last week with Tim and John, Tim stated that the language in the license agreement was the only problem. When I gave him a copy of the suggested revised agreement, he gave it a quick read on the spot and said it looked good but would have to run it by his lawyer. After he got some preliminary feedback from his lawyer, he told me that the lawyer thought it looked good but wanted to give it a closer read and then provide him with a written opinion. Tim promised to fax me the opinion that afternoon, but he never did. Instead, he told me that since they might have to take us to court, he didn’t want to give us anything we might use against him. They must have decided to overreach and go for broke.

I have concluded that Tim is entirely untrustworthy, and not just based on the above example. Yesterday he stated that he just wanted us to obey the law, and he and his colleagues made a big show about how important the precedent was. If that is truly what they believe, then why did Tim tell me earlier this week that all we had to do was hire Tierney as general contractor “to make this all go away” (meaning that he would drop the whole public bid law issue)? Or at our meeting with him more than a week before the hearing in which he offered to drop the bid protest if Allegrone would agree to become a union shop?

This is a simple union power play. It may be all over for us but if City Hall allows itself to be bullied or intimidated, you risk handing the governance of the city and its finances over to the unions, which means that the city becomes ungovernable.

Forgive me for overstepping and giving advice in an area that is none of my concern.

Sincerely,
Chip

Chip:
Here’s a point that became clearer to me on the way home. The carpenters’ original complaint had to do with the language of the license agreement, and they cited certain cases in support of that. None of those cases said that a city owned facility must be publicly bid no matter who’s doing the construction and no matter where the money is coming from - because there is no such case. The carpenters want Wahconah Park to be that case and they believe a vulnerable mayor will give it to them. Such a precedent would be huge, not just for Pittsfield but statewide and maybe nationally. That’s why they’re willing to risk the bad publicity if we walk.
Remember that our recommended language fix seemed to be okay to Craw, “subject to review” by his attorney. But they never produced the attorney’s opinion of our revision because in the meantime they decided to go for broke. Jimmy has to see this strategy and call it for what it is - massive overreaching that will retard development across the state. Which will not be good for the Attorney General when it gets traced back to him.
Jim

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