Despite early opposition to the original funding plan, Gov. Gina Raimondo says a deal for a new Providence ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) is still possible this legislative session.
The key — and this is a difficult objective, to be sure — is coming up with the right funding plan. The PawSox owners have asked for $5 million annually from the state, defrayed by $1 million annually in rent, as well as real-estate-tax exemptions. The PawSox owners will finance the $85-million construction cost and will either lease or buy the land. State and local officials spoke out against the funding plan as being a bad investment for the state, and since the original pitch all sides have met behind closed doors.
And those meetings behind closed doors have convinced Raimondo, an early critic of the ballpark funding plan, that there is the chance a deal could be made this legislative session — a deadline sought by PawSox owners. From the Providence Journal:
Raimondo said she doesn’t know if the state can reach a decision by the end of this legislative session, the deadline the team’s owners have proposed. But she said negotiations have been “constructive,” and the owners have been “open-minded … taking our suggestions.”
“If there’s a good deal here for the people of Rhode Island, then I’m going to find that deal and do it,” Raimondo said. “I think the right answer is: Let’s calm down, be rational and see if there’s a deal to be had. And if there’s not, and if they don’t want to operate on our terms, then fine, then we’ll kill the deal, but we’re not quite ready to do that.”
“There certainly will be a public cost,” [House Speaker Nicholas A.] Mattiello said. “These stadiums always call for a public cost, a significant public cost, but you’ve got to measure that against the benefits that they provide. We’ll have a very transparent process. We’ll make sure that the public knows everything that we’re doing and considering and then we’ll all make a decision together.”
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