With Providence residents still registering their opposition to a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark on a prime downtown waterfront site, team management continues to say a new financing plan will convert skeptics.
A Leadership Rhode Island and the Harvard Business School Association of Southeastern New England town meeting on Tuesday night attracted many opponents to the ballpark plan out of the 240 attendees. Most, it seems, want the site to remain as green open space and not be developed at all — leading to comments from PR folks at the meeting representing the team that green space was a big part of the ballpark proposal. Opponents also balk at the initial funding plan for the ballpark — a situation that PawSox principal owner Larry Lucchino and state political officials say will be addressed when a new funding plan is released.
One thing that came up in the meeting: several attendees proposed a ballpark location on a Victory Place site in the Jewelry District, which has been pushed for months by the property owner. Yesterday Lucchino decided to check out the site, and it’s safe to say he was not initially impressed.
It’s hard to say whether Lucchino and crew are actually serious about the Victory Place site: it’s small (only eight acres, so parking would be problematic) and quite a distance from downtown Providence. Perhaps most damning: there’s little chance for any associated economic development if a ballpark were built there, as opposed to the potential impact of a downtown ballpark. From the Providence Journal:
When first approached by a Journal reporter as he walked the site Wednesday, Lucchino said the land was not under serious consideration as a ballpark location.
“Not really,” he replied. “We’ve just heard so much about it. We’re just checking it out.”
Then he turned and walked away, onto the weedy lot.
Meanwhile, Pawtucket elected officials are pushing for the release of a report commissioned by the PawSox regarding the cost to bring McCoy Stadium up to the level of current Triple-A ballparks. The cost: $65 million.
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