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RI's Big Bet On Curt Schilling Raises Questions

DAVID KLEPPER

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) â¿¿ In 2010, the man who'd helped Boston win its first World Series in more than 80 years came to Rhode Island promising the job-starved state something even better: hundreds of good jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and a foothold in the booming business of video games.

To former Gov. Donald Carcieri and top economic development officials, it was an opportunity too good to miss. The state's Economic Development Corp. offered a $75 million loan guarantee to lure Curt Schilling's 38 Studios to Providence.

Two years later, the company defaulted on a $1.1 million payment to the corporation, Schilling has pleaded for additional state help and Rhode Island faces the possibility of being stuck with the company's debts should it collapse.

Lawmakers who never signed off on the loan guarantee said they now have to answer to constituents demanding to know why Rhode Island backed an untested company helmed by a wealthy former athlete when the state grapples with an 11.2 percent jobless rate and chronic budget deficits.

"We have cities and towns on the brink of bankruptcy," said Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, R-Westerly. "The public is looking at this $75 million and saying, 'What did you do?'"

Schilling's 38 Studios asked the Economic Development Corp. on Wednesday for additional assistance after defaulting on a scheduled $1.1 million payment to the agency on May 1. The company then hand-delivered a check for the amount â¿¿ but told the corporation the check wouldn't clear. The payment was made Friday, said Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Himself a vocal critic of the deal with 38 Studios before he took office, Chafee said he doesn't want to give the company any additional taxpayer support.

"This was a very, very challenging investment by the state," Chafee said. "We're just going through the consequences of what we knew right from the beginning."

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