PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The sudden death of Pawtucket Red Sox President Jim Skeffington has thrown the team’s future in Rhode Island into question, putting a spotlight on the nine co-owners who joined with him to buy the team in February.
“These next few days are for grieving – in the days ahead we’ll talk about the future of the PawSox,” Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino, a PawSox co-owner and one of Skeffington’s close friends, said in a statement Monday.
A spokeswoman said Lucchino and I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Chairman Joseph Azrack plan to meet informally in Boston on Tuesday to discuss the future of the team’s Providence stadium proposal, though they are not expected to do any formal negotiating there.
Skeffington, who died Sunday, is survived by two children, Jim Jr., a lawyer at CVS Health in Woonsocket, and Erinn, as well as seven grandchildren.
“The questions now are, what’s going to happen to his assets? Will one of the existing partners buy out his stake? Will it be inherited by his children? Will there be the same commitment to Rhode Island that Jim Skeffington had?” Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College and adviser to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, told WPRI.com on Monday.
“Those are the main questions that exist but probably won’t be answered in the next week or two,” Zimbalist said.
Any decisions about what happens next will have to be made by the 10 PawSox co-owners, including whoever inherits Skeffington’s stake. Four of the other co-owners have Rhode Island ties, while the remaining five have ties to Massachusetts, though in one case only through the Boston Red Sox.
Lucchino, who served with Skeffington as the two principal owners of the Pawtucket team, is the most likely candidate to take a lead role in hammering out whether the team will reach an agreement with state leaders to build a new stadium in Providence. But insiders said it was much too soon Monday afternoon to have any sense about what will happen.
“We’ll have to see if someone takes up the mantle,” Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, told WPRI.com. “Really what I think you needed in the stadium deal is to have a clear proponent pushing forward the proposal, and it’s not clear if anyone else in the ownership group or his family has either the drive or the gravitas to be able to push that forward.”
Here’s a closer look at the other nine co-owners who are part of Skeffington’s PawSox ownership group.
• Larry Lucchino: As president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox since 2002, Larry Lucchino is perhaps the best-known member of the PawSox ownership group. He was one of the architects of the team’s World Series victories starting in 2004, and is known as a shrewd businessman who’s played a crucial role in recent efforts to boost team revenue. Lucchino and Jim Skeffington were close friends – they met through the famed lawyer and Baltimore Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams – and the Boston team used Skeffington as its general counsel. Lucchino visited Rhode Island last month to lobby for the Providence ballpark, and made clear staying at McCoy Stadium was out of the question.
• Bernard “Ben” Cammarata: Ben Cammarata founded discount retailer T.J. Maxx in 1976 and over the subsequent decades managed the successful growth of its parent company, Framingham-based TJX Cos., which also owns Marshalls and HomeGoods. (“Ben bought Marshalls the same way he buys dresses – at a bargain-basement price,” an analyst once told The Boston Globe.) Cammarata is retiring next month as chairman of the board at TJX, which booked $27 billion in net sales last year. The Boston Business Journal estimated his TJX stock was worth $137 million as of 2013.
• William P. “Bill” Egan: Newport native Bill Egan has spent decades in the venture capital industry, as founder in 1979 of the firm Burr, Egan, Deleage & Co.., and more recently founder and general partner at both its successor firm, Alta Communications, and another firm, Marion Equity Partners. Both are based in Massachusetts. He served for years on the board of Cephalon, a biopharma firm that sold for $6.8 billion in 2011. Egan donated $6 million to his alma mater Fairfield University in 2000, the largest gift in the school’s history. He was also part of the investor group that bought the Boston Celtics in 2002.
• Fenway Sports Management: The only member of the PawSox ownership group that’s not an individual is Fenway Sports Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of John Henry and company’s Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and British soccer team Liverpool F.C. and has a partnership with LeBron James. (Forbes recently declared it “the most sophisticated, synergistic player in the coming age of international sports conglomerates.”) Fenway Sports Management describes itself as “the sales and marketing arm of the Boston Red Sox.” It’s led by Sam Kennedy, a top Red Sox executive who works directly for Larry Lucchino. The company owns and manages the Salem Red Sox, the major-league team’s Class-A Advanced franchise in Virginia.
• Habib Y. Gorgi: One of the relatively few PawSox co-owners who still works in Rhode Island, Habib Gorgi is a managing director at Nautic Partners, the Providence-based private-equity firm where he’s worked since 1986, when it was still the old Fleet Bank’s Fleet Equity Partners division. Gorgi went into banking after attending Moses Brown School and Brown University on College Hill (along with Columbia University for his MBA). One of his best-known investments through Nautic was in FTD, the flower delivery company, where he used to serve on the board. Gorgi now serves on the board at Moses Brown.
• J. Terrence “Terry” Murray: For years one of the most prominent figures in Rhode Island business, Terry Murray built Rhode Island’s old Industrial National Bank – which he joined in 1962 and never left – into the regional banking powerhouse Fleet Financial Group. He remained at the bank’s helm until shortly before Bank of America bought it in 2003. London’s Financial Times once said Murray “supplied the vision and the people-handling and communication skills” that allowed Fleet to grow into New England’s largest bank; his then-deputy, Brown University graduate Brian Moynihan, is now CEO of Bank of America. Murray and his wife, Suzanne, own a home in Narragansett.
• Arthur E. Nicholas: A San Diego resident, Arthur Nicholas made his fortune as chairman and CEO of Nicholas-Applegate, a money-management firm sold in 2000 for at least $980 million. A local newspaper once described Nicholas a “a legendary stock picker,” and the San Diego Business Journal pegged his net worth at $640 million in 2009. He is a partner in the Boston Red Sox.
• Frank M. Resnek: A Massachusetts resident, Frank Resnek is founder and president of Churchill Forge Properties, a family-owned real-estate investment group in Newton. Like Arthur Nicholas, Resnek is a minority partner in the Boston Red Sox.
• Thomas M. Ryan: Another famous name in Rhode Island’s business world, Tom Ryan joined CVS as a pharmacist in 1976 after graduating from URI – whose Ryan Center now bears his name – and rose through the ranks to become the Woonsocket drugstore giant’s CEO in 1994. Ryan led CVS until 2011 as its revenue soared from $5 billion to nearly $100 billion and its divisions expanded. Small world: one of the other PawSox co-owners – former Fleet chief Terry Murray – served as lead director on the CVS board when Ryan was CEO there. Ryan and his wife, Cathy, own a home in Narragansett.Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesiTim White contributed to this report.