Sea Dogs’ shortstop Marcelo Mayer (18) gets into position during their game against the Akron Rubberducks at Hadlock Field in June 2023. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

AUGUSTA — Lawmakers heard overwhelming support Thursday for a proposal that would give the Portland Sea Dogs a tax credit of up to $2 million to help pay for upgrades to the baseball team’s facilities at Hadlock Field.

The  Legislature’s Taxation Committee took no action on L.D. 2258, which would provide an income tax credit worth 20% of a qualified investment in a professional baseball facility in Maine – up to $200,000 per year and $2 million total. A committee workshop and vote are expected at a later date.

The bill comes as the Sea Dogs’ owner, Diamond Baseball Holdings, looks to make $8 million to $10 million in upgrades that are needed to bring Hadlock Field in line with Major League Baseball’s requirements for its minor league affiliates. The Sea Dogs are the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

“Maine has an economic and community interest in keeping the Sea Dogs in Maine,” Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, the bill’s sponsor, said during a public hearing Thursday. “Critical upgrades are essential to realizing these interests.”

Jackson originally proposed a tax credit of up to $1 million, or $100,000 annually, for qualified investments, but has since submitted an amendment that increased the amount of the available tax credit.

He has heard criticism about using public funds for upgrades to the stadium, which is owned by the city of Portland, but disputed the notion that the tax credit is unfair or ignores other needs facing the state. “This bill establishes a reasonable tax credit with benchmarks to support good-paying jobs, capital investments that generate substantial economic activity and a commitment to remain in Maine,” he said.


While some continue to criticize the proposal, lawmakers heard overwhelming support during the hearing Thursday.

A June 2021 report from the University of Maine on the economic impact of the Sea Dogs said that in 2019 the organization was responsible for $28 million in statewide economic output, 447 full- and part-time jobs and $9.1 million in labor income.

The planned upgrades 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.

Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said the team already has “invested a significant amount of money” in getting Hadlock Field to meet MLB’s standards, which they must do by 2025. But the bill will be a great help, he said, noting that the team is at risk of being relocated if it doesn’t meet the requirements.

“We’re committed to being in Maine and being here for a long time, but if that threat were ever to happen and we did have to move, all of these upgrades are property of and belong to the city of Portland,” Iacuessa said. “I think that’s an important point to make. But we are 100% committed to working with the state and working with the city and keeping the team in Portland.”

The committee heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill, with several people lauding the Sea Dogs’ economic impact and their donations to charities and good causes in the community. Parents talked about bringing their children to games and employees talked about a sense of community among those who work at the stadium. Others recalled date nights and outings with friends.


“I have always admired the Sea Dogs’ involvement in the community,” said Ed Palmer, a Scarborough resident who retired from a career in hospitality and now works as an usher for the Sea Dogs. Palmer said the Sea Dogs have a history of filling hotels with player families, coaches and trainers, visiting teams and others, and the Red Sox connection draws fans from southern New England looking to “meet the next great player to make it to the majors.”

“An investment in waiving taxes for the Sea Dogs would be immeasurable in helping keep Portland as a strong Double-A sports destination,” Palmer said.


Ed Suslovic, a former Portland city councilor, mayor and state lawmaker, said the proposal is well worth it. “You have the opportunity to create a public-private partnership,” Suslovic told the committee. “This bill leverages private dollars into a public facility.”

House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, also testified in support. “While the team might play in Maine’s largest city, they contribute to rural schools, provide top-tier family entertainment at affordable prices and are a huge part of our state economy,” Faulkingham said.

He said the tax credit would be a smart investment given the team’s economic impact. “The question for the committee is simple: Does Maine want to be part of minor league baseball?… Let’s look long-term and keep a good thing going,” Faulkingham said.


The bill did not draw significant opposition during the hearing Thursday, but an analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy told the committee that the group is opposed to taxpayer dollars being used to fund the stadium renovations to benefit a privately owned team.

“With so many other unmet needs in our state, there are more important priorities than subsidizing a renovation of a sports stadium,” Maura Pillsbury said.

The Maine Policy Institute, a conservative think-tank, submitted written testimony against the proposal saying “narrow legal carve-outs and target tax exemptions” are ineffective at spurring economic development.

“Despite this evidence, state governments like Maine continue to arbitrarily pick winners and losers through tax policy,” said Jacob Posik, the institute’s director of legislative affairs.

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