PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Rhode Island beat out other places including Louisiana and someCanadian provinces to become the new home of Curt Schilling’svideo game company, 38 Studios, by offeringa $75 million loan guarantee, the former Red Sox pitcher saidWednesday.
The company has been in discussions for nearly two years withdifferent jurisdictions about the possibility of relocating,Schilling said during an interview on sports radio stationWEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” show. Louisianawas “very aggressive,” he said.
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Although Schilling “absolutely” wished Massachusettshad offered incentives to keep 38 Studios in the Bay State, onlyU.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., made a significant effort toexplore the possibility, he said.
“We made every effort to make that happen, and it was notgoing to happen,” he said. Officials in Massachusetts havesaid the state would never provide as large a guarantee as $75million to a single company.
Default ‘staggeringly’ unlikely
Schilling, 38 Studios’ founder and chairman, also stronglydefended the agreement approved by the R.I. Economic DevelopmentCorporation’s board. Critics including gubernatorialcandidates Lincoln Chafee and Ken Block saystate taxpayers are taking on too much risk by backing acompany that has no products or revenue yet.
The EDC’s board spent eight months vetting 38 Studios beforeapproving the guarantee Monday.
“The chain of events that would have to happen for onedollar of taxpayer money to be spent to repay this loan –it’s pretty staggering,” Schilling said.
Schilling also said that during negotiations with the state, hepromised R.I. House Speaker Gordon Fox he would not use RhodeIsland’s offer of the $75 million guarantee to get a betterdeal out of one of the six other states in talks with 38Studios.
If 38 Studios is successful, it will help turn the Providencearea into a hub for game development, which could create close to2,000 jobs, Schilling said. The company currently employs about 200workers who make an average of $75,200 a year, he said. It islikely to lease a headquarters soon “somewhere in downtownProvidence,” he said.
EA investing $50 million
Schilling said his company’s deal with Electronic ArtsInc., the nation’s second-largest video game publisher,shows its potential. He predicted 38 Studios would become amultibillion-dollar enterprise eventually.
Electronic Arts executives have “looked at us,they’ve done their due diligence, and they’ve betwhat’ll probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50million that we’re going to do well,” Schillingsaid.
He also said he “won’t allow” the move fromMaynard, Mass., to Providence to prevent 38 Studios from releasingits first game, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” onschedule in September 2011. The single-player game will be releasedby Electronic Arts for Xbox, Playstation and PCs.
Critics ‘don’t understand’
Schilling dismissed Chafee’scomments, which the former senator later took back, allegingthat the pitcher had painted the famous “bloody sock”he wore in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
But he did take umbrage at skepticism of the deal from Chafeeand Jeremy Kapstein, a Red Sox executive who is running forlieutenant governor in Rhode Island.
“When you hear them talk, for me it’s frustratingbecause they just don’t understand the ins and outs of theentire business deal,” Schilling said.
Asked if he “liked hanging out with these geeks” whoplay video games, Schilling responded: “I’ve been oneof these guys my whole life.” During his teams’ roadtrips, “instead of a hanging out at a strip club, I was in myroom being a geek,” he said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Curt Schilling wore the "bloody sock" in the 2004 World Series; he wore it during Game 6 of that year's American League Championship Series.
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