Greater City Providence

Rhode Island totally sucks open thread, Vis-a-vis 38 Studios

Photo (cc) Curtis Cronn

So I can often be wicked negative. And honestly, our site’s stats go up the more negative I am in my posts (and I get a few more fractions of cents from Google ads the higher our stats go, so,”¦), but often, I’m all like, “yeah, things are bad, but, blah, blah, blah.”

However this 38 Studios stuff I just can’t. This is a whole bunch of holy shit, this state sucks-ness.

I have this idea about Rhode Island that I put out there when I have a gin and tonic or two which I kind of think is funny ha ha, but also I think, I don’t really need the gin and tonics to promote.

In 1663 King Charles II of England gave us a charter for our colony. So, my gin soaked theory is that the current Queen of England could maybe just revoke that charter.

Make us a subject of the crown. It might be nice, we’d get double decker buses and those cool red phone booths. Maybe Pippa Middleton or Ricky Gervais would be appointed as our Governor-General, and the crown would protect us from ourselves giving blood-soaked soxed baseball people loads of cash with no concept that they had any idea what to do with it. Our Economic Development Corporation would be based at Canary Wharf. Sure we’d have a crazy tea tax, but we’d also get BBC shows as they aired, not a season later on BBC America.

So, go ahead. Let’s all have our catharsis and talk about how totally fucked up this whole situation is. But, then let us also realize, the Queen is not revoking our charter. And maybe we all want to up and leave, but how do we take this set back and continue on our path of making Rhode Island great?

Let’s be negative and and get me a few more fractions of cents from my Google ads, but let us also try to figure out how we can persevere and get through this.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I know they say that it’s always darkest before the dawn…but I feel like this has been the longest night ever.

  • Also: Giving $75 million to Curt Schilling to run a video game company is about equal to giving control of a baseball team to Nintendo.

  • Too late we’re stuck with Schilling, Gina R. and the Journal, just have to deal with it and move on!

  • Why won’t Gina R. retroactively “reform” the loan guarantee the way she “reformed” pensions?

  • A few things to get you boiling:
    1) There seems to be ample evidence state officials were told exactly how this was likely to go and went ahead anyway (quickly, behind the scenes, without being totally clear to the public, at least from where I was sitting).
    2) This will stop RI from ever trying anything “big” again in the next decade.
    3) Hundreds of highly educated and talented workers just got laid off and RI doesnt have any opportunities to offer them. Worse, unlike some smaller town revitilization stories, there’s workers didn’t have time to develop ties here and RI doesn’t have the gravity to hold them and get them to stay.
    4) The total payout for this deal, if you exclude the value of 38 Studios IP that’ll be sold in a fire sale auction, is almost exactly the price of the Providence Streetcar.

  • We don’t need to do the “big” thing. We need to do the basic things better. Public works, infrastructure, education, transperancy. That and our electorate needs to hold their representatives accountable for their actions.

  • This is one of the few cases where it hurts to say, “I told you so.” Everyone saw this coming and said how the crazy the EDC was to sink all their funds into this one deal.

    There was an article in the globe about how Schilling is extremely difficult to work with and how he refused buyouts because he wanted to retain ownership in the firm.

    We were the only people who ponied up for his venture and look where its gotten us.

  • Towne Street– I can’t say I agree. We shouldn’t be doing things that are “sexy”, yes, but “basic” is hardly what I’d call the required work to make public works, infrastructure, and education better in this state. All three need pretty big fixes.

  • If the $75 million were instead used to guarantee loans for 75 exiting small businesses within the state and 10% of those businesses went bad, this would be a minor discussion.

    The General Assembly holds blame, but Carcieri’s silence is deadening, since this was his baby that he pushed so hard for.

  • Carcieri is, and always has been, an empty suit.
    Where the f*ck has he been for the past month and why won’t he show his face anywhere?

  • As much as Carcieri and Schilling should be tarred for this (how about we set up some stocks in LaSalle Square), I’m getting pretty tired of Gina Raimondo and Linc Chafee sniping at each other over this. It is not helpful and it is not covering either of them in glory (although a hint to Gina’s camp, I’m being waaaay more annoyed by her now and if today were 2014, I know who I wouldn’t be voting for).

  • @Jef
    Spot on.

    She’s being an opportunist and using this incident to raise her own profile.

  • I think (hope) GR is going to turn around a bit on this. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, my guess is she kept on getting asked for comment that she really spent 0 time on and eventually responded with a, “Look, when I did VC if I made this kind of investment there’s no way I’d be that uninformed.” And she’s right, VC money like that typically comes with an equity position and one (if not several) board positions so they would know extremely well the financial position of the company at any give time.

    Of course, perhaps unbeknownst to GR, this whole thing was setup in a way to inhibit, if not prohibit, that kind of oversight that is common for VC funding.

    So, I’m hoping she just got sick of being asked for comment and answered with her gut which was, “This was handled like worse-than-amateur-level VC,” and that’s where her critique comes from rather than anything truly specific to this context.

    A stretch? Maybe. But she seems to smart to come in with her comments that late in the game when Chafee already looked better than he has ever looked before on an issue he was on the right side of from the start.

  • Jason- I think what Towne Street was saying is exactly what you mean. We could have taken that $75 million and put it towards infrastructure, public works, and education and if it weren’t just putting it in the hands of the same people who run those things now, we could have an amazing state (or at least more amazing than it is right now).

    This whole thing is stupid. Curt Schilling has the money to pay this loan. He had the money to cover it in the first place. Why the hell did the state think it would be smart to give him the money to start a silly video game company?

  • I’ve heard multiple anecdotal stories of businesses in my town (Warren) of being rejected on small loan requests (250k instead of original 200k, etc). These are business that already exist, are proven, profitable, and want to risk a small expansion. I can’t prove that they were rejected because such a large chunk of money was being tied up with this 38 studios’ enterprise, but I wouldn’t bet against it, either. How this will trickle down to existing small businesses is the saddest part to me.

  • This is, of course, pathetic, and every sensible person in RI saw it coming from Day One. Trouble is a star-struck governor controlling an apparently clueless and decidedly UN-savvy EDC swung at a sucker pitch and the people of RI struck out.

    The irrepressible Charlie Pierce said it best: Curt Schilling is an outspoken conservative who believes in a government just big enough to fit in his wallet. (Only a Game, May 19)

  • Scott MacKay on Facebook:

    The Gift That Keeps on Giving: How do you make change in Rhode Island? Take $75 million and turn it into a Schilling.

    We have to laugh to keep from crying I guess.

  • I agree that this whole debacle brings attention to the recurrent, depressing problems that plague Rhode Island. However, I think this whole situation also reveals something else in our collective character–we have this tendency to want things to suck. I’m not necessarily referring to the people in this thread, but I see in the press and others that there’s a desire for 38 Studios to fail, just to prove a point. Personally, I think that is almost as depressing as the fact that the EDC gave 38 studios $75 million.

  • I think we should change from the Creative Capital to, “Providence: A Kingdom of Amalur”.

    The cross-promotion possibilities, boost in Providence tshirt sales, and tourism potential is really there now that we’re going to own all the IP.


  • I had a bad irony attack last night as I attended the “Providence the Creative Capital” panel last night at the Pell Chafee Center, while right across the street camera crews were picking the bones of 38 Studios.
    Oh, and sorry to be that guy, but it was Charles II, not Charles III. That jug-eared guy in England is waiting to take that title.

  • Oh, and sorry to be that guy, but it was Charles II, not Charles III. That jug-eared guy in England is waiting to take that title.

    Thanks, my overzealous typing resulted in a promotion for Chuck.

  • I think that laying off all the workers is really the cherry on the sundae. Do you know how much that will cost RI? If they all exhaust their benefits, somewhere on the order on 14 million dollars is what I read (but i hate math so i could be wrong) so add that to the 75.

    While i don’t agree that the economic development money could have/should have been used for infrastructure repair (because that is not what the money was earmarked for) I do think, as I did at the time, that it should have been used to help lots of small business to stay afloat, to launch some small RI businesses and to add capital to current RI businesses.

    This whole thing is very unfortunate. And agree that Gina is definitely not making any friends with me, but I don’t vote in RI anymore, so i guess that doesn’t matter much.

  • My point about infrastructure was that the state should focus more on those areas to solve its problems rather than brokering risky loan deals.

  • Perhaps Governor Carcieri should have spent less time praying and more time actually learning about the video game industry in general, and why no private money was interested in this losing proposition in particular. We shouldn’t be too surprised when people who are chiefly guided by the myths and legends of our Iron Age ancestors make poor decisions for us in the 21st century.

  • Would u all still be against the loan if the game were 2012’s number 1 seller and the company grew here?

  • Yes, because the investment of public money in a private venture should aways (if it should even be done-which is debatable—gov’t should make the setting investment friendly—not actually try it) involve private, expert vetting and private capital at stake. These “one-offs”, pie in the sky ventures by the solons in the GA is just lazy ignorance, unfortunately.

  • Has anyone been following Schilling’s bizarre spin that Chaffee is responsible for 38’s failure because he said it was failing?
    Truly stupid.

  • If revealing some very basic fundamentals about a company (even if it’s typically kept within a small circle) leads folks to not want to invest, then transparency is not your problem.

    Anyone who would have put money into this venture would have rightfully sought the information Chafee provided, embarrassing or not.

  • It should be WORSE. That’s the mystery. How is anything left standing in a state that does this much wrong? That is this corrupt? That is this overtaxed? And whose election results indicate an electorate that is either dyslexic or suicidal. The only great jobs are those where you know an insider and you then get hooked up and feed on the dwindling tax base. I’m so sick and tired of complaining about it. It is the accepted norm here. We are destined for the first ever statewide bankruptcy. But the corruption is so bad that even that will trigger a frenzy of theft and corruption when the federal bailout funds arrive. 50th in the nation as a place to do business……and it should be WORSE.

Providence, RI
5:10 am8:22 pm EDT
Feels like: 73°F
Wind: 6mph NNW
Humidity: 40%
Pressure: 30.03"Hg
UV index: 0
75°F / 54°F
79°F / 64°F
90°F / 68°F