Committee endorses Jackson bill to keep Portland Sea Dogs in Maine

The bill establishes a tax credit to help make city-owned Hadlock Field ADA accessible, support good-paying jobs and incentivize millions in capital investment 

AUGUSTA – On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Taxation Committee endorsed a modest tax credit sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to support upgrades to city-owned Hadlock Field and keep the Portland Sea Dogs in Maine. The vote was 8-4 with strong bipartisan support.

“Baseball is often celebrated as America’s favorite pastime. However, this can only be true if all Americans can navigate the stadium and sit in the stands. This strategic tax credit that will incentivize economic investment, create good-paying jobs and make the historic Hadlock Field more accessible to all Mainers,” said President Jackson. “I’m grateful to the Taxation Committee for their swift and decisive action. I’m hopeful the Senate and House follow suit.”

LD 2258, An Act to Create an Income Tax Credit for Investments in a Team’s Qualified Minor League Baseball Facility to Keep the Team in the State creates a refundable income tax credit for an eligible professional baseball facility in the state that makes a qualified investment of at least $1 million but no more than $15,000,000. The tax credit would be worth up to $200,000 per year with a lifetime cap of $2 million. The annual amount of the tax credit would be determined by the qualified investment. 

“The Portland Sea Dogs have been playing baseball the way it should be in Portland for 30 years. I’ve been proud to be a season ticket holder and even a national anthem singer at some home games,” said Sen. Jill Duson, D-Portland. “The team has become part of the tapestry that is Portland and has become a recognized Maine brand around the country. The Sea Dogs are Maine’s hometown team, and they need our help.”

Currently, Hadlock Field does not meet Major League Baseball’s new stadium requirements. Teams have until April 2025 to make the necessary upgrades to existing facilities or risk losing their affiliation with Major League Baseball. The loss of affiliation would force the Sea Dogs to either fold or relocate to a compliant stadium. Sea Dogs President and General Manager, Geoff Iacuessa, estimates the cost to be about $10 million to renovate the facility to meet the requirements.

“What is harder to quantify – but no less important, in my opinion is the teams dedication to young people in our community. From youth baseball clinics to reading challenges with Slugger, to special ballpark nights with free tickets for youth-serving organizations ranging from Big Brothers Big Sisters to the YMCA to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, the Sea Dogs provide a family-friendly environment with positive role models that encourage giving back to the community,” said Commissioner Heather Johnson, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development at the public hearing. “Many of you have heard me say this before, but it is far more expensive, time-consuming and risky to replace a lost asset than it is to maintain the one you already have. We encourage committee members to consider examples like Pawtucket, Rhode Island as you consider this bill.”

Since 1994, the Portland Sea Dogs have become a well-known fixture and economic driver in Maine. A 2021 economic impact study determined that in 2019, the Sea Dogs Organization contributed $28 million in total economic output, supported 447 full- and part-time jobs, and generated $9.1 million in labor income. The economic impact is reflected in the team’s popularity. Recent data ranks the Sea Dogs 18 out of 120 minor league teams for the highest average attendance.

Hadlock Field is owned by the city of Portland and also serves as the home field for the Portland High School Bull Dogs and Deering High School Rams. 

Maine has a history of enacting tax credits that support good-paying jobs and bolster the state’s economy. Examples include tax credits utilized by IDEXX in Westbrook, BIW in Bath and Penobscot McCrum in Washburn.

LD 2258 faces additional votes in the Senate and House in the coming weeks.

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