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City Council Backs PawSox Ballpark Resolution

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

During a meeting on Tuesday, the Pawtucket City Council voted in favor of a resolution relating to a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark. 

At its meeting, the city council took up a non-binding resolution of support for Pawtucket to issue bonds of up to $15 million for the project. The council’s approval of that resolution does not finalize a deal with the PawSox, but comes at a key time. State officials are continuing to debate the proposal, which calls for a new PawSox ballpark to be constructed at the site of an Apex department store in hopes of bringing economic activity to the area.

During the meeting, officials–including Pawtucket’s Director of Administration Antonio Pires–emphasized to the council the importance of passing the resolution. While some concerns were expressed over the exact amount of money that will need to be raised through bonds, the council ultimately voted 6-2 in support of the resolution, which some believe is key to helping discussions continue at the state level. More from The Providence Journal:

“The importance of this resolution cannot be overstated,” said Pires, who said he was there on behalf of Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, otherwise occupied with issues regarding Care New England’s announcement it would close Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. “If it does not go forward, it will put a halt at the state level.”

Some council members said they don’t know if they will ultimately support the stadium-financing proposal, but they want legislative leaders to continue vetting the deal, which includes issuing bonds to raise cash to build a stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox at the Apex department store site downtown.

“I’m in favor of continuing the vetting of this project,” Councilman Terrence E. Mercer said before the meeting.

One area of concern is that state, city and PawSox negotiators have said the bonds would raise $71 million to be paid off over 30 years, but state General Treasurer Seth Magaziner testified to the Senate Finance Committee last week that the total raised might approach $84 million. That would allow money to be set aside for early interest payments, before proposed development nearby would generate revenue to help pay off the debt.

Discussions at the state level have been unfolding, and will continue with upcoming hearings. The House Finance Committee is slated to hold a hearing on Wednesday afternoon, while the Senate Finance Committee will consider the plan once again next Thursday.

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