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Updated game plan for new Providence ballpark in works

New Providence ballpark

Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) managing partner Larry Lucchino says there’s a renegotiated proposal for a new Providence ballpark, which should be unveiled sometime in the next few weeks.

Last year new PawSox pitched public funding from Rhode Island for a new downtown Providence ballpark, but team ownership regrouped after reaction to public funding for the new ballpark was less than overwhelming. The regrouping included a tour of the state to pitch the benefits of a new ballpark, and it’s now been revealed that Lucchino and crew have been working behind the scenes with a new ballpark plan with representatives from Rhode Island’s General Assembly and the governor’s office. Though Luccino declined to discuss specifics, it’s pretty clear any new deal will rely less on state funding (though perhaps not less state financing) and more from the team. From the Providence Journal:

Lucchino told The Journal: “The April proposal has been substantially, or can I say dramatically, renegotiated in the last several months with representatives of the legislature and representatives of the governor’s office.”…

Lucchino did speak of the term that Mattiello has used to talk about the deal he’s hoping to reach with the team.

Asked what the term “revenue neutral” meant to him, Lucchino said, “It translates into what we think would be a desirable position for the public entity to be in and it’s not all that common.”

Lucchino’s comments came in Durham, where he and the PawSox led a Rhode Island delegation to Durham Bulls Athletic Park to see the economic impact made by the Durham Bulls (Class AAA; International League). The city built DBAP, but Capitol Broadcasting — the Bulls’ owner — invested in the area surrounding the ballpark, as did other private firms. The public/private partnership was pitched by Lucchino as a model for what could happen in downtown Providence.

Even though a new Providence ballpark plan is in the works, don’t look for Pawtucket to give up the Sox without a fight. Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien is asking the state to commission a study to determine the cost of renovating McCoy Stadium. From RIPR:

In a letter dated to July 31 to Raimondo and other state officials, a copy of which was obtained by RIPR, Grebien argues the feasibility study is required by the lease agreement between the state, Pawtucket, and the Pa. He said the PawSox have remained unwilling to provide their own study reportedly identifying a roughly $65 million cost for overhauling McCoy.

“A feasibility study of McCoy Stadium which results in costs that nearly equal what a new stadium might cost would give further credence to Rhode Islanders as to the reasonableness of investing in a new stadium structure,” Grebien writes in his letter to Raimondo. “Conversely, of course, improvement costs for McCoy Stadium which are substantially below the cost of a new stadium would likely make a new stadium plan less appealing to Rhode Islanders.”

“Either way,” Grebien continues, “all the facts should be known for everyone to judge before any decisions are made final.”

Grebien is taking a narrow approach to a big picture. Lucchino and the public officials are talking about economic development, while Grebien is talking improved concourses and upgraded amenities. It’s hard to see a Pawtucket renaissance generated by McCoy Stadium renovations; it’s easier to see new economic activity arising from the Providence location.

RELATED STORIES: Lucchino to step down from BoSox, will still lead Providence effort; RI gov: Providence ballpark deal alive; RI brings in Zimbalist to consult on ballpark funding; Early reaction to Providence ballpark plan: negative; PawSox present alternative financial deal for new Providence ballpark; New Providence ballpark renderings unveiled; 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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