A look from the top during the Portland Sea Dogs season opener against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies last spring. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The Legislature’s Taxation Committee deadlocked 4-4 Tuesday on whether to support $2 million in tax incentives for the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team.

But with five members absent, it was unclear whether the committee would endorse the measure. Absent committee members can still vote after the meeting on whether to support a bill.

Regardless of the final committee tally, the measure now moves to the Maine House and Senate for consideration.

The Sea Dogs are requesting the tax breaks to help pay for upgrades to Hadlock Field, which is owned by the city of Portland and is also used for high school baseball games and other events.

State Rep. Joe Perry, D-Bangor, said the tax proposal is “money well spent” because the Sea Dogs help boost business in Maine, and state sales tax is collected on concession sales at the ballpark.

“They have a great product,” Perry said. “I have no problem being from Bangor and investing in this property in Portland.”


But state Rep. Tracy Quint, R-Hodgdon, said she didn’t understand why the Sea Dogs couldn’t raise ticket prices and use their own funds for renovations.

“The way in which this is being financed I have concerns with,” Quint said.

The proposal calls for an income tax credit worth $2 million to help pay for upgrades to bring the ballpark in compliance with Major League Baseball standards. The Sea Dogs are a AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

A proposed amendment would keep the tax credit at $2 million but have it disbursed over 15 years instead of 10.

Garrett Mason, a Sea Dogs representative, said minor league baseball operates on tight margins.

“We are one of the most successful teams in minor league baseball,” Mason said. “But success in minor league baseball is not like success for the Boston Red Sox. Our profit or loss comes down to a few rainy days.”

Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said the tax credits would ensure the Sea Dogs stay in Portland for 15 years – on a 15-year lease – but that he believes the minor league franchise will be in Portland for “much longer.” The Sea Dogs have been playing baseball in Portland for 30 years.

The planned upgrades include a double batting cage, weight room, trainers room and kitchen, locker room, office space and bathroom facilities.

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