BPS overhaul could cost billions | Possible way forward on sports betting | Saving small movie theaters | About Contrarian Boston |
On the edge: Small movie theaters look to State House for help
As they struggle to get back on their feet amid the never-ending pandemic, movie theater owners across the state could get a lifeline from Beacon Hill.
State lawmakers are weighing a budget amendment that would create a $7 million pool of grant money theater operators could draw upon to keep their doors open.
The proposal, by state Rep. Tackey Chan, the House chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, comes as theater revenues continue to trail far behind their pre-Covid numbers.
Massachusetts box office revenues rebounded to $75.5 million in 2021, up from $45.5 million in 2020. Sounds impressive, until you consider that movie theaters across the state brought in $213 million in 2019, the Quincy Democrat told Contrarian Boston.
Chan noted that movie theaters are right up there with the tourism and the restaurant industry in terms of the damage wreaked by the pandemic. The Strand Theater in Clinton closed late last year, while Boston has also lost two venues as well.
Theaters with four screens or fewer will be given preference in competing for the grants.
“As we slowly begin to recover, we have seen the theater industry continue to struggle to bounce back,” Chan said. “Concerted efforts to support our local theaters, many of them staples in our communities, are imperative to protecting local jobs and the arts."
Massachusetts not alone in reluctance to embrace college game betting
Sports betting has its best chance in years of actually clearing the State House and going legal.
But the remaining sticking point – whether to allow betting on college games – is a big one.
However, the state Senate’s insistence on cordoning off college games from the betting action isn’t as implausible as it sounds, with a number of other states having taken a similar approach.
Illinois, Oregon, Nebraska and Wisconsin have all legalized betting on pro-sports while banning wagers on in-state college games.
That, in turn, could provide the template for a potential compromise here in Massachusetts, especially given many of the big college teams and games are to be found in the Midwest and South, as opposed to New England.
The fact that we are even having this discussion, though, is a sign of the political clout university and college presidents wield in the Bay State.
File under: Ivory tower politics.
Sticker shock: The real cost of overhauling Boston’s crumbling schools
Here’s betting the final repair bill will likely be higher than the $2 billion renovation budget Boston Mayor Michelle Wu unveiled on Thursday.
Sure, it is twice as big as former Mayor Marty Walsh’s $1 billion BuildBPS program.
But it’s not clear how real a number that $2 billion really is. In the rollout of her plan, Wu said consultants have been hired to “provide detailed analysis of our school buildings’ needs, and make recommendations for renovations and upgrades.”
Or in other words, no one at City Hall right now truly knows what the final tab will be. In fact, once the consultants and construction specialists start to take a deeper look, they could find other issues, as is often the case.
“Chances are they will discover some things along the way,” said Pam Kocher, president of the business-backed Boston Municipal Research Bureau. “Some of these school buildings will require more than the estimate.”
The fix-up plan is also targeting 14 schools, a relatively modest percentage of the 120 schools in the BPS system. While these may be the toughest cases, the issues with decrepit, run-down facilities are fairly widespread.
So how much will it cost? Let’s just say billions is the best estimate right now.
We rolled our eyes when we first read the headline, but it’s actually not a bad column at the NYT: “What BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Are Doing to the Economy.”
Stick to the acting: “Matt Damon slammed for crypto commercial amid market meltdown” Boston Globe
BU president takes home $2.1 million as university hikes tuition past the $61,000 mark: “Classy! Boston University tuition hike exposes ‘irrational’ cost of college” Boston Herald
Putin’s brilliance at work: “Sweden’s ruling party greenlights joining NATO; bloc chief calls potential adds ‘historic’” Washington Post
What is Contrarian Boston?
I have fielded emails over the past couple weeks asking what Contrarian Boston is about.
Here’s a link to our mission statement – you can find it in the “about” section.
For a more prosaic, nuts-and-bolts description, read on.
An online newsletter, Contrarian Boston publishes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In Contrarian Boston you’ll find analysis of the day’s news, and original reporting as well.
Our focus is:
· Politics and all levels of governance, good and bad, with an emphasis on state and local, with some national mixed in;
· Economic growth and business, especially real estate, housing and new development projects;
· The media and why it does what it does;
· Education, from school board spats to the doings of multibillion-dollar university endowments;
· And whatever else catches our fancy.