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State Support Sought For PawSox Ballpark Plan

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

Days after it was revealed, Rhode Island lawmakers are weighing in with their early thoughts on a proposal for a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark. 

On Tuesday, plans were announced for a new PawSox ballpark that would be funded through a mix of contributions from the team, city, and state. The team proposed its contribution at $45 million, with the public sectors offering $38 million–including $15 million from the city, which would own the ballpark’s land, and $23 million from the state.

One of the key variables in the project’s status is the support of state leaders. A key voice in the process, house speaker Nicholas Mattiello says that he wants any proposal of state financing to have the approval of Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo.

Mattiello believes that the governor’s backing is crucial to getting a bill in place at this point in the legislative session. The PawSox, for their part, say that they are prepared to work with state leaders, and that both they and the city are respectful of the process the state must take. More from The Providence Journal:

The fact that neither chamber has received proposed legislation yet was by design, say team executives and city leaders, who are still negotiating terms of their proposal.

Being respectful and keeping in mind that everybody perceives that everything is a done deal, we were very careful to create the framework so they would have time to look at it … and weigh in on what they think is important,” [Pawtucket mayor Donald] Grebien said.

PawSox senior vice president and general manager Dan Rea III said publicly sharing — on Tuesday — an outline of how the team and city think a new stadium could be financed was the first step. On Wednesday, Rea said the team knows there must be time for state leaders to review and digest what they’re hearing.

The team hasn’t spoken directly with Raimondo since sharing the proposal Tuesday, Rea said, but they’re working closely with Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino said the team has had “literally dozens and dozens of meetings with Commerce people,” the city and outside consultants.

But Mattiello insists he needs to hear from the governor.

“I have so many irons in the fire right now. This is the end of session,” Mattiello said. “I’ve got the budget. I’ve got big bills …. If the governor has a plan on this, she can let me know. If she doesn’t, it’s just not going anywhere. I am not initiating this process.”

Billed in Tuesday’s announcement as Ballpark at Slater Mill, the venue would be constructed on the site of an Apex department store. The cost estimate for the ballpark is $73 million, though property acquisition could raise the project’s overall cost to $83 million. If the plan moves forward, the PawSox could be in Pawtucket through at least 2050.

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