In spite of recent weather, the calendar tells us summer will be upon us shortly.
And what a better way to know it's truly summer than by watching, as Roger Angell so beautifully wrote about The Boys of Summer, Major League Baseball.
Now I admit it is tougher than ever trying to be an avid baseball fan. In my heyday as a fan, there were only 20 teams to keep track of, players stayed with teams for years and the business of baseball was playing the game. Flash forward to 1972, and all that would change.
Curt Flood, a star player for the St. Louis Cardinals, had been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1970, but did not want to leave the Cardinals.
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered him to play for Philadelphia, or not at all. Flood chose the latter and sued baseball for violation of antitrust laws.
Even though Flood lost his case, players did ultimately win the war and were no longer restrained by a reserve clause that bound them to their team. In a series of labour market victories, players won the right to free agency (bargain with any team for their services) after six years of service.
The average salary skyrocketed from $45,000 in 1975 to $289,000 in 1983. And so went player loyalty.
Standout pitcher Curt Schilling, in his almost 20-year career, played for only three teams and helped lead the Phillies to the World Series in 1993 and won World Series championships in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and in 2004 and 2007 with the Boston Red Sox.
But baseball success does not mean business success. After retiring, Schilling founded Green Monster Games, named after the outfield wall at Fenway Park in Boston. The company was renamed 38 Games, after Schilling's uniform number, and having signed a contract with Electronic Arts to provide a game called Kingdoms of Amalur, the company grew rapidly. A total of 400 employees were hired.
Fast forward to May of this year, and only three months after shipping his first game, Schilling has laid off the entire staff of his two development studios and shut down operations.
38 Studios had been working on a massively expensive multi-player online game that was supposed to be released later this year. The story gets more interesting from an economic development perspective as the firm was lured from Massachusetts to Rhode Island to take advantage of a $75-million publicly backed loan from the state.
The company received $50 million of that loan. Schilling's company, however, was unable to make a $1.1-million payment that came due in May. While more than 160 of the existing workforce found gaming jobs immediately, the real loser in this may be the state of Rhode Island.
Goodbye tech company, hello public crisis as Rhode Island, suffering from its worst revenue shortage in history, is on the hook for the loan.
Two top officials in the state's economic development agency, which guaranteed the loan in an effort to stimulate job growth, have resigned. Rhode Island suffers from an unemployment rate of 11.2 per cent, the second-highest in the country after Nevada.
To add insult to injury, the FBI is looking into fraud allegations around the loan itself.
There are more than 30 U.S. states that offer significant incentives for companies to locate or relocate. In British Columbia, with the exception of the film industry and tax credits, there is little incentive offered.
The wild pitch from Schilling suggests B.C.'s approach makes sense. Improve the overall business climate, provide access to markets and connections for companies along with capital connection (as witnessed by the recent metabridge technology event hosted by the Economic Development Commission) and a better model is created to grow local businesses.
Robert Fine is executive director of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.