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Raimondo: Current PawSox Ballpark Legislation is Adequate

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

As it stands, the legislation for a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark adequately protects taxpayers, according to Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo

In remarks made on Tuesday, Raimondo sounded content with the plan that has been proposed. As part of an $83 million project for a new ballpark, the PawSox would have an overall contribution of $45 million contribution ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency), with Rhode Island paying $23 million from Rhode Island (with Pawtucket committed to paying the money back), and the city chipping in $15 million. The ballpark would be constructed at the site of an Apex department store in Pawtucket, where officials hope it will be a catalyst for development in the surrounding area.

Raimondo stated that she believes that the current plan can protect taxpayers, though some Rhode Island officials–including House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello–have expressed reservations about the agreement. The governor did, however, note that legislators are in a position to rework the deal as discussion unfolds. More from The Providence Journal:

“This deal that’s before the legislature I think protects taxpayers,” Raimondo told reporters in a morning briefing when asked whether she would consider having her administration rework the deal at all. “Having said that, the legislature can amend the legislation like they do with any legislation, and if the speaker has amendments he would like to see, I am open to consider them.”

Mattiello last Friday told The Journal that the state should rework the deal to place more of the financial risk for building the $83-million stadium on the team and less on the city and state.

Under the current proposal, the team would contribute $12 million upfront toward stadium-construction costs. The Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency would then raise $71 million through a series of bonds to cover an additional $33 million from the team, $23 million from the state and $15 million from the city, plus interest.

Asked Tuesday if he would bring a stadium bill to the floor without any changes, Mattiello said in an email that the “Senate is taking the lead” on the stadium bill and the House will “study and assess any bill that the Senate may pass.”

“I have questions and concerns about this deal,” Mattiello added. “In listening to many Rhode Islanders, my assessment is that most people may want the PawSox to stay here, but they are not comfortable with the present deal. This is the feeling of most of my Cranston constituents I have spoken with, as well as what I am hearing from my House colleagues who are talking to their own constituents.”

Some state officials have recently being calling on the PawSox to release detailed financial data, contending that more information is needed to assure that the team is financially solvent and capable of backing the public bonding. The team has previously provided the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee and the state with a balance sheet and other financial data, though it has not opened it books in full, including profit-and-loss statements.

Raimondo addressed this issue as well,  according to The Providence Journal.

“We always knew that there would be this public vetting,” Raimondo said. “So what my department did was come up with a term sheet that had necessary protections for the taxpayers, and this does that.”

“The Senate wants this information. I think it is a reasonable ask. I think the team should find out a way to give it to them,” she added.

The PawSox are seeking a new home to replace McCoy Stadium, where their lease will expire after the 2020 season.

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