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Ex-pitcher Schilling needs reliever

Seeks bailout from state for his video firm

- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling asked Rhode Island for additional help to save his video game company Wednesday, prompting state leaders to consider whether the firm is viable enough to justify further investment.

Mr. Schilling briefed Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the state's Economic Development Corp. board in a closed-door session.

Following the meeting, Mr. Chafee would not say what Mr. Schilling is seeking from the state. The governor said the question before state economic development officials was, "How do we avoid throwing good money after bad?"

Mr. Schilling declined to answer questions, saying only: "My priority right now is to get back to my team."

Concerns about 38 Studios' financial health arose when it failed to make a scheduled $1.1 million payment to the Economic Development Corp. on May 1.

The business was lured from Massachusetts in 2010 after Rhode Island offered a $75 million loan guarantee that state officials said would help bring hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue.

No action was taken on 38 Studios' new request. The board's next scheduled meeting is Monday.

"We have a lot of work to do between now and then," said Mr. Chafee, who has vowed to do "everything possible" to assist the company, named after Mr. Schilling's number as a player, and keep the state from having to pay the company's debts.

The governor, an independent who serves as chairman of the Economic Development Corp. board, called the situation "very, very complicated."

"The difficulty that we face is protecting the taxpayers and looking ahead to the future (to determine) whether there's viability that's worth further investment," he said Wednesday.

House Speaker Gordon Fox said Tuesday he began hearing "inklings" about trouble at the company a few weeks ago, but didn't have complete information to gauge the company's health.

Under the terms of the loan guarantee agreement, 38 Studios promised to bring to Rhode Island a total of 450 jobs over three years. An outside monitor was to follow the company's progress.

The company released its much-anticipated first game, "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning," to strong reviews in February.

Mr. Chafee and others criticized the loan guarantee at the time it was offered, saying it was putting taxpayer money at risk to help a company with no track record of success. During his run for governor, Mr. Chafee called it "one of the biggest risks I've ever seen."

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