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Rhode Island Official Offers Support for PawSox Ballpark Plan

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

During a senate hearing on Wednesday, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner offered some favorable words for a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark. 

With Rhode Island officials continuing to discuss the proposal, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Wednesday. During that hearing, Magaziner–who said he had some initial skeptical about the proposal–expressed some support for a new PawSox ballpark.

The funding model has been built for an $83-million project, with the PawSox contributing $45 million ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency), Rhode Island paying $23 million (with Pawtucket committed to paying the money back), and the city allocating $15 million.  The current legislation calls for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to raise $71 million from bond sales, but that is the net amount that needs to be generated after other funds are held aside for early interest and additional payments before development around the ballpark takes effect.

Magaziner, along with the state’s financial advisor Janet Lee, estimated that $84 million is what would be needed through bond sales. Magaziner also presented some ideas for ways in which officials could modify the legislation, but opined that a new PawSox ballpark was an appropriate investment for the state.  More from The Providence Journal:

He also suggested that if the state’s Commerce Corporation were to issue the bonds, the state might get more favorable interest rates.

Despite other suggestions, Magaziner spoke strongly in favor of the state investing in a baseball stadium where families can attend affordable sporting events, with some of the best ballplayers. That’s the type of facility that’s appropriate for government to invest in, he said.

Supporting arts and entertainment venues is why state taxpayers voted overwhelmingly in 2014, Magaziner said, to support an arts bond that raised $35 million to improve arts and cultural facilities around the state.

“These are the things that make life worth living, and they should be affordable to everyone,” said Magaziner, who said it’s time to breathe new life into a city whose downtown has remained stagnant, with empty parking lots and a virtually empty department store in his lifetime.

The $84 million figure includes $40 million from the team, along with $26 million from the state, and an additional $17-$18 million from Pawtucket. If constructed, the ballpark would be built at the site of an Apex department store, where the team and local officials hope it will lead to economic activity in downtown Pawtucket.

The PawSox have been seeking a replacement to McCoy Stadium, where their lease expires after the 2020 season. Pawtucket is not the only city that has been linked to the PawSox during their ballpark pursuit,  as Worcester, MA has had discussions with the team.

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