Fans wait in a line to get into Hadlock Field for the Portland Sea Dogs home opener against Binghamton Rumble Ponies in April. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The Portland Sea Dogs are looking for the state’s help in partially funding a new clubhouse at Hadlock Field, an upgrade needed to get the ballpark in line with Major League Baseball’s requirements for its minor league affiliates.

A bill sponsored by state Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, would help raise financing toward the renovations through tax credits for the team. The Sea Dogs, who were purchased by Diamond Baseball Holdings from the Burke family in February, also would contribute toward the cost of the upgrades, a team official said.

It’s unclear how much the state would provide in tax credits to the Sea Dogs if Jackson’s bill passes. The bill has raised questions about whether public funds should be used to help finance capital improvements for a professional sports team.

The Sea Dogs have been a fixture in Portland since 1994, when they began play as the Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The Sea Dogs have been the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox since 2003, and their latest affiliation agreement with the Red Sox runs through the 2030 season. The Sea Dogs’ lease to play at the city-owned ballpark runs through the 2028 season.

The Sea Dogs are looking to build a new home-team clubhouse down the left field line at Hadlock Field, behind what is now the visitors’ bullpen. The new facility would include a double batting cage, weight room, trainers room, and kitchen, as well as locker room, coaches’ office space, and bathroom facilities. The Sea Dogs’ current clubhouse behind right field would become the visitors’ clubhouse. Visiting teams now use facilities in the Portland Expo alongside Hadlock Field.

The impetus for the new clubhouse is to comply with Major League Baseball’s requirements for the ballparks of its 120 minor league affiliates. Those including upgrades in player amenities and fan experiences, with a target date of  2025 for completion of all improvements.



Geoff Iacuessa, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs, said the team hopes to have final designs for the new clubhouse in February. He added that the team is waiting for final prints of the design for a total cost estimate, and that the franchise would not rely solely on taxpayer money to finance the clubhouse.

Iacuessa said he’s had discussions with Jackson and Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, on the project for approximately six to eight months. Jackson said he attended a meeting in Portland with the Sea Dogs scheduled by Johnson, after which he agreed to sponsor the bill. Jackson said he’s not sure what the cost of the clubhouse will be, but he said the Sea Dogs mentioned $4 million to $5 million in the meeting.

When asked if the $4 million to $5 million Jackson referenced was the total projected cost of the project, the state’s cost, or what the Sea Dogs envision as their cost, Iacuessa said he couldn’t be sure until the plans take shape.

“It’s tough to know at this point the exact number we are looking at until we get the prints to be able to accurately bid it,” Iacuessa said.

To Jackson, providing tax credits to the Sea Dogs is the same as supporting other Maine businesses that have been issued tax credits in recent years, including the Penobscot McCrum potato plant and Bath Iron Works. Jackson said that in meeting with the Sea Dogs, he did not get the sense the team was in danger of leaving, but he is not willing to take the chance that they could if MLB’s improvement benchmarks are not met.


“It’s one of those things, you just don’t know,” Jackson said. “I think people enjoy (the Sea Dogs). It’s a small investment in making sure we have good jobs and can ensure the Sea Dogs remain in Maine. I’m not willing to play chicken on this. … I can see another state try to lure them away.”

Jackson expects the wording of the bill, which is being written by Johnson, to be complete soon. If passed, the tax credits received by the Sea Dogs would likely be tied to benchmarks the team needs to meet in the number of jobs and payroll, he said.

Iacuessa said it’s his understanding that as long as the team is working toward the necessary improvements, it’s not in danger of being moved from Portland by either Major League Baseball or the Red Sox.

“As far as we view that, that’s not something we want to find out the answer to,” Iacuessa said. “If a team is just ignoring it and not doing anything, it might be in danger (of losing affiliation), but we’re fully invested in making this happen.”

Mike Teevan, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball, did not say if the Sea Dogs would be in danger of moving if the new clubhouse was not completed by 2025, but did refer to the agreement all minor league franchises agreed to in February 2021 as MLB’s Professional Development League license holders.

“From a player development perspective, the facility standards and improved player working conditions are an important component of the licenses,” Teevan said.


Improvements the Sea Dogs already have made at Hadlock include LED lighting, new padding on the outfield walls and added protective netting down each baseline to protect fans from line drive foul balls.


Diamond Baseball Holdings owns 29 minor league teams, including the Sea Dogs. Diamond also owns Boston’s Single-A affiliate in Salem, Virginia, and the Triple-A affiliate in Worcester, Massachusetts. Just last week, Diamond bought the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a rival of the Sea Dogs in the Eastern League.

A message seeking interviews with officials from Diamond Baseball Holdings was not returned Wednesday.

The prospect of using state money to help finance improvements at Hadlock Field already has met with opposition. Maura Pillsbury, a state and local tax policy analyst with the Maine Center for Economic Policy, came out against the idea with a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Mainers do not have the housing, child care, or emergency medical services we need, but please tell me more about how these venture capitalists who own 28 minor league teams across the country need … our tax dollars to survive,” Pillsbury posted Wednesday morning.


In a blog post outlining bills that will come before the upcoming legislative session, Jacob Posik, director of legislative affairs at the Maine Policy Institute, also criticized the proposal.

“Maine taxpayers should not be underwriting the existence of the Portland Sea Dogs, no matter how much we love them,” Posik wrote. “They sell tickets, concessions, apparel, and other goods that make them more than capable of standing on their own two feet without taxpayer support.”

The Sea Dogs’ lease calls for a payment on April 1 of $225,000 to the city. The Sea Dogs’ lease payment is determined by the team’s attendance from the previous season. Attendance over 325,000 triggers the maximum lease payment of $225,000. This is an increase of $25,000 per season over the previous five seasons.

The ballclub drew 403,957 fans in the 2023 season, an average of 6,121 for each of the 66 dates at Hadlock Field. That was an increase over the average 2022 attendance of 5,744, and ranked Portland third in the Eastern League, behind Richmond and Hartford, and 18th of 120 teams in affiliated minor league baseball.

The Sea Dogs’ lease calls for the city’s approval in writing of any alterations the team makes at Hadlock. Portland spokesperson Jessica Grondin said the city has been in discussions with the Sea Dogs regarding the need for Hadlock Field improvements, and ways the team can obtain funding for those improvements. Iacuessa said the team is working with the city to extend the lease beyond 2028. Portland’s goal is to have the Sea Dogs remain in the city for years to come, Grondin said.

“We’re still early in our negotiations. The normal process for this would be to bring a staff recommendation to the (City) Council committee and then after that to the full (City) Council for approval,” Grondin said in an email.

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