Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios laid off its entire staff on Thursday only two days after he praised his employees’ “breathtaking resilience” through the video game company’s financial struggles.
Two years after moving from Massachusetts to Rhode Island with a $75 million loan guarantee, 38 Studios was late on a $1.1 million payment to the state’s Economic Development Corporation and told officials it could not make payroll last week.
The company’s 300 Providence employees and another 106 in Maryland were told the layoffs were “non-voluntary and non-disciplinary” in an e-mail sent by 38 Studios and obtained by The Associated Press.
Rhode Island rationalized the 2010 loan with the promise of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue. Governor Lincoln Chafee said the EDC will continue to attempt to salvage its investment despite what he deemed “grim times” for the company.
The decision to pull the plug on his staff is hardly in keeping with Schilling’s oft-shared views on the need for limited government and individual responsibility. Schilling advanced 38 Studios $4 million of his own money months ago, but rather than use that to keep the company afloat, he repaid himself with the Rhode Island loan funds.
As WEEI columnist Kirk Minihane writes, perhaps the real Schilling doesn’t quite hold to the principles of the person Schilling wants us to see.
The $4 million Schilling quickly snatched back would've bought a couple of weeks worth of payroll, no? If he truly felt, as he wrote on Tuesday afternoon, that the people at 38 Studios were "determined to stand together as hard and as long as they can," why not keep the taxpayers and the government out of it and be the picture of personal accountability for a month or two? Better yet, why did Schilling even accept the loan in the first place? A real limited government guy might have punted when he couldn't raise enough private equity, would have paused before going into business with a group as inept as the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.
The answer to both is this: Because Curt Schilling isn't pro-business, isn't pro-limited government, isn't pro-conservative, isn't even pro-38 Studios. He's pro-Curt Schilling. Whatever's best for Schilling is what will be done.
Two members of the 12-member EDC board have already stepped down, and two more asked not to be reappointed. That leaves Chafee with the task of cleaning up the mess from a loan he initially opposed during his 2010 campaign. But he says he’s “still continuing to work for 38 studios.”