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Lawmaker: Voters should decide on new Providence ballpark

Pawtucket Red SoxA state lawmaker is proposing Rhode Island voters approve a land lease for a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark in Providence.

State Representative Patricia Morgan says “the people need a right to vote” on the PawSox ballpark plan. The voters wouldn’t be actually voting on the merits of the ballpark, as the construction would be funded by the new PawSox owners, but rather a lease on the land between the state and the team. The location, on I-195, is currently owned by the state. From WPRI:

The bill comes after new owners of the PawSox last month said that they may explore a state leasing plan to fund the stadium by the vacant I-195 land.

“He was saying, ‘Well we’ll use private money, but we need a lease from the state.’ And the bells went off. I think that’s really troubling,” she said.

Morgan scrutinized the Rhode Island Convention Center as a leasing plan taxpayers never partook in.

“The Convention Center authority is going to cost the taxpayers three-quarters of a billion dollars and they never had a chance to vote on it,” explained Rep. Morgan. “I don’t want to see the same thing happening with the baseball stadium.”

Of course, considering the ballpark is expected to cost between $60 million and $70 million, it’s hard to envision a scenario where leasing land worth $28.4 million and offering tax stabilization to a baseball team would end up costing taxpayers $750 million. So there’s some definite grandstanding here.

But there could be some definite consequences to actions. While the new PawSox owners have been committed to Providence since buying the team and proposing a new ballpark, there’s always been a subtext that the team could end up in Massachusetts should a Providence deal fall through. And, indeed, Worcester officials say they’d welcome a Class AAA International League team in a new ballpark. But one thing has been made crystal clear time and time again: McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket will not be the long-term home of the PawSox.

RELATED STORIES: The final days of McCoy Stadium?; PawSox sale closed; move to Providence next; Pawtucket: We want to keep PawSox; Pawtucket Red Sox sold: Reports

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