With news that Gov. Mike DeWine’s minor league baseball team cashed in on the Paycheck Protection Program, one may ask how Ohio’s top executive came to own a team in North Carolina or why he needed a taxpayer handout.
DeWine has a 32 percent stake in the Asheville Tourists minor league team, The Ohio Star reported this week.
The governor’s spokesman Dan Tierney said the loan was for $189,500, to be used to cover payroll and payroll-related expenses.
The governor does not manage the team; instead, his son, Brian DeWine, does so.
The Asheville Tourists’ Facebook page says their season was cancelled but they are creating alternative ways to make money including hosting picnics on the ball field and operating their food stands.
DeWine defended his team’s receipt of the funds and said it will be used for 12 to 14 full-time workers, according to a story by the Associated Press.
The office staff directory listed online shows 14 workers, including Brian DeWine.
The U.S. Treasury says the PPP loans may be forgiven after either eight or 24 weeks.
Assuming there are 13 workers, to split the difference, DeWine could have received between $607 to $1,812 per worker per week that could be forgiven if they keep the workers on staff during the required time. (Divide $189,500 by 13 for $14,576. Divide that by 24 weeks for $1,214. Or, for eight weeks’ forgiveness, divide $14,576 by 8 for $1,812.)
A total of 60 percent of the loan must be used for payroll costs during the allotted period for forgiveness to kick in, Forbes said.
One may ask how Gov. DeWine came to own a baseball team in another part of the country.
Ballpark Digest in January 2010 reported the DeWines bought the team from Palace Sports and Entertainment. The price was not disclosed, but the publication said the previous owners had wanted $7 million at one time.
Brian DeWine, who was made the team’s president, was known in baseball circles from his time with the Carolina Mudcats.
A Minor League Baseball webpage about the Asheville Tourists talks about the DeWines’ history with baseball, which began well before they bought the team under the name of DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball, LLC.
That name comes from the family’s feed and seed business founded in the 1920s in Yellow Springs.
The website tells a narrative of how a teenage Dick DeWine, the governor’s father, and a friend went to watch the Cincinnati Reds in the 1939 World Series. The young DeWine made it inside, with an extra ticket, but he looked outside and saw his friend who did not have enough money and was leaving.
Dick reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver dollar that his father had given him and wrapped the other baseball ticket around it. Then, he threw it over the railing, hoping and praying that it would fall at the feet of his friend.
Amazingly, it did — and they both watched that game together!
Thus the name DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball!
The DeWine family has made more money since 1939.
When DeWine was in the U.S. Senate, he was ranked as the ninth wealthiest member of that chamber, with an estimated net worth of $37 million in 2006, the Center for Responsive Politics reported. Securities and investments accounted for much of that at just over $15 million, while Ohio Twine Co. accounted for another $15 million. The remainder came from commercial banks and DeWine Enterprises.
That would buy a lot of hot dogs — or pay a lot of office salaries.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Photo “Asheville Tourists Baseball Player” by Asheville Tourists.