If there is public funding of a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark in Providence, it will come in a fall special legislative session over the strong objections of taxpayers.
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. PawSox ownership had sought to make a waterfront ballpark part of this year’s legislative session, which ends June 20. But it looks increasingly like this year’s budget plan won’t include anything for the PawSox, and all sides agree it looks like anything significant would come in a fall special session.
That is, if all sides can come to an agreement on a plan. Gov. Gina Raimondo says her office has received 553 emails and phone calls since February about potential public funding of a new Providence ballpark, with 98 percent of them in opposition. No word on how those in opposition broke down — whether they were Pawtucket residents against public funding of a ballpark that would result in the loss of their team or whether they were Providence taxpayers opposed to any public spending on a ballpark — so it’s hard to say how significant these numbers are. Still, PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino expressed hope a deal could be struck in a letter to the Governor, House Speaker, and Senate president:
“[We] fully endorse a continuing and comprehensive discussion to ensure a ballpark proposal that most benefits the state and its citizens,” wrote Lucchino.
Lucchino wrote the original timeline had been the design of the late-PawSox President Jim Skeffington, who died suddenly last month, and that his passing “[Necessitates] a new and different rhythm to our joint effort.”
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