Friday, June 17, 2022
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The developer of the proposed football stadium in Pawtucket also owns a majority stake in another team on the west coast, and that team does not attract too many fans.
Brett Johnson, CEO and founder of Fortuitous Partners, developer of the proposed 10,000-seat Tidewater stadium in Pawtucket, talks about the many different football teams he says he has a financial interest in and their logos are featured on his company’s website. .
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The state of Rhode Island and the city of Pawtucket have already pledged more than $70 million in subsidies, tax credits and infrastructure improvements to the proposed stadium. Now Johnson is asking for another $30 million to fund the project.
In some teams, Johnson’s financial holdings are often very small. In the case of the English team Ipswich Town FC, Johnson often discusses his property. On Thursday, he posted a video on Twitter about his love for the team.
— Brett M. Johnson (@bmjcrew28) April 7, 2022
The investment group Gamechanger 20 owns about 90% of the Ipswich Club. Of these, Johnson and two others (Mark Detmer and Berke Bakaj) own united 5% of the team between the three of them. The bulk of the funding (and the vast majority of ownership) comes from the Arizona State Pension Fund.
The only team in which Johnson owns a majority stake is FC Tucson. He plays in the same league as the team that Johnson proposes for Pawtucket. USL, but at a lower level. The team in Pawtucket and the team in Tucson are minor league teams.
Johnson received a majority stake in the 2021 FC Tucson team. He previously owned and operated Tucson through another team in which he was a shareholder, Phoenix Rising. According to press reports, Johnson no longer has a financial interest in the Phoenix team, but Johnson has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his ownership stake.
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Tucson vs. Pawtucket or Tucson vs. Rhode Island
Tucson, Arizona is a city with more than eight times the population of Pawtucket.
The Tucson metro area is home to 1.1 million people, about the same as Rhode Island. Tucson has a population of about 545,000 and Pawtucket has about 72,000.
Johnson’s FC Tucson team plays at the Kino Sports Complex, a county-owned facility that seats about 3,200 people.
The sports complex has an adjacent baseball field. Think of the McCoy Stadium baseball stadium.
The Tucson Padres used to play in a baseball stadium — the former spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks — but like the Paw Sox, the minor league Tucson is gone.
Johnson’s team plays in a separate stadium in the same sports complex. The football part of the complex was designed for the FC Tucson team in 2014.
According to Tucson.com in 2014 “Football will soon have a permanent presence in the Kino sports complex. Plans are moving forward for an agreement between Pima County and FC Tucson to use five fields and the clubhouse for football events.”
At the time, the value of the facility was in the hundreds of thousands, not the tens of millions that Johnson is demanding in Pawtucket.
“The field refurbishment will cost $81,000, which FC Tucson will pay for itself within two or three years,” County Administrator Chuck Hackelberry said. “The county will move fences, add stands for 2,000 fans, and change lighting to make it more accessible.” … Tucson FC will also pay approximately $64,000 to use the clubhouse formerly occupied by minor league baseball, as well as pay a field use fee. “We’re not going to make money, but we’re not going to lose any of the money in the offer,” Hackelberry said, according to Tucson.com.
“Tucson is well positioned to become a major hub for a “growing sport that will be very popular,” Hackelberry said in 2014.
But eight years later, he has few fans and little attendance.
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FC Tucson Attendance Questions
Johnson’s team from Tucson was drafting nearly 1,007 players per game in 2021, according to league data.
For the 2022 season, GoLocal viewed live-action films of the Tucson team’s home games and manually counted the number of fans. When considering three games, attendance averaged around 600 fans or less per game.
Tucson is last in the league this season with 12 teams.
Johnson did not respond to questions about the presence of the Tucson team.
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