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Officials Plan Taxing District Around Proposed PawSox Ballpark

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

Pawtucket officials have revealed preliminary information on a special taxing district that could surround a proposed new ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League). 

What has been proposed in Pawtucket is for the PawSox to replace McCoy Stadium with a new ballpark that would be constructed at the site of an Apex department store. The financing plan accounts for an $83 million project, calling on the PawSox to contribute $45 million ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency), Rhode Island to pay $23 million (with Pawtucket committed to paying the money back), and the city to allocate $15 million.

One of the areas that officials hope the project can address is development, and that having the PawSox and the ballpark will bring more economic activity to downtown Pawtucket. New property tax revenue in the area would be dedicated to paying off the city’s portion of the debt, and Pawtucket is revealing some tentative plans on a potential tax increment financing district. More from The Providence Journal:

The tentative boundaries of the TIF district stretch north to Exchange Street, east to School and Summer streets, south to Fowler Avenue and west to George and Pleasant streets. But the city may change the boundaries, [Commerce Director Jeanne] Boyle and [Director of Administration Antonio] Pires said, perhaps taking into account other locations where new development could occur.

It’s too soon to say precisely which properties would be included because the state must first authorize the city, the state and the PawSox to enter into a financing plan for the stadium, Boyle said. If lawmakers approve two bills that the Senate and House finance committees are vetting this fall, the city would proceed to create the district, she said.

Communities across the country use tax-increment financing districts to help pay for revitalization or infrastructure work connected to certain development projects. In Pawtucket’s potential district, the $2.3 million now generated in property taxes, which are considered the “base taxes,” would continue to pay for ordinary city expenses such as schools, roads and municipal work, Boyle said.

Pawtucket officials are contemplating the possibility that the proposed district could generate more than is needed to pay off the city’s stadium bonds. If that happened, city spokesman Dylan Zelazo said, the city’s general fund would benefit.

The Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee has been conducting hearings on the proposal, and more are expected over the coming weeks. Pawtucket is not the only city to be linked to the PawSox, as Worcester, MA has had discussions with the team. The PawSox’s lease at McCoy Stadium runs through the 2020 season.

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