An updated proposal for funding a new Pawtucket Red Sox ballpark (Class AAA; International League) will be introduced with the support of Gov. Gina Raimondo, using the state’s bonding power to back up the Pawtucket financial commitment.
A previous ballpark effort failed for lack of support in the General Assembly and a lack of commitment from Raimondo. Now, with the distinct chance the PawSox could leave, the governor and legislators are back with an updated funding plan and are opening backing it. There really isn’t that much different on the financing proposal for the $83-million project: the PawSox would pay $45 million ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency), Rhode Island would pay $23 million (with Pawtucket committed to paying the money back), and the city would pay $15 million.
If the proposal moves forward, the PawSox would sign a 30-year lease for a new ballpark that is to be constructed on the site of a former department store. Team officials and elected leaders have expressed their desire to see the ballpark spark additional development in the surrounding area.
Democratic state Senate Finance Chairman William Conley said he’s submitting the bill now, just days before lawmakers are set to adjourn for the year, so it becomes part of the public record “for all to see and scrutinize” in the months ahead.
“Let’s submit this legislation to the crucible of scrupulous public scrutiny and see what comes out at the other end,” said Conley, who represents parts of East Providence and Pawtucket.
The Senate’s finance committee plans to begin deliberations in the fall. A finance committee in the state House of Representatives also plans to consider it in the fall.
The PawSox, meanwhile, thank everyone for their help but note there are no guarantees this legislation will move forward:
PawSox statement on ballpark legislation: pic.twitter.com/6b8K4f0HCI
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) June 27, 2017
One reason why Rhode Island folks are revisiting the issue: there is the real change the state could lose the PawSox. We do know the PawSox ownership has been talking with other communities as an alternative should a new-ballpark plan fail in Rhode Island. One of those communities, we are told, is Worcester, Mass. Not a surprise: Worcester has been eyed by MiLB owners for years and years, even before the PawSox new-ballpark search began. It’s the second largest community in Massachusetts after Boston. The other community is intriguing: it’s a Massachusetts city bordering Rhode Island. There are advantages to this location. The team would still be serving the Pawtucket/Providence market while also keeping another MiLB team out of Pawtucket and Providence due to territorial rules.
The new ballpark would replace McCoy Stadium — ironically, approaching its 75th anniversary.
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