The Rhode Island Speaker of the House has told the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) that he does not plan to call a vote on the team’s proposed ballpark this year.
State officials in both the house and the senate have held hearings on the proposed PawSox ballpark, which would be constructed at the site of an Apex department store in Pawtucket. One of questions in the process has been whether the house or senate would call a vote on the proposal before the end of 2017, potentially bringing an answer in the team’s ongoing search for a new facility.
It has been learned that lawmakers in the house will not be called to vote on the plan before the end of this year. A spokesman confirmed that house speaker Nicholas Mattiello delivered the news to PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino, adding that the senate is taking the lead the proposal. Whether the senate decides to call a vote remains to be seen. More from WPRI:
Mattiello and Lucchino met Thursday for what some said was a tense exchange. Larry Berman, a spokesman for Mattiello, said the speaker’s message to the veteran baseball executive “was consistent with his public comments.”
“Right now, the speaker said that the House has no plans of returning in 2017 to consider the Pawtucket stadium proposal,” Berman told Eyewitness News. “The Senate has taken the lead in this issue and the House would consider anything that is passed and transmitted to the House.”
While not a surprise, the speaker’s reluctance to call a House vote on the ballpark will disappoint advocates of the plan, including Lucchino’s co-owners and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien. The $83-million proposal calls for $71 million in public borrowing, with $38 million covered by state and city taxpayers and the rest by the team.
However, it remains possible the Senate will vote on the ballpark before the end of this month. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio “is open to convening in November, pending the recommendation of the Senate Finance Committee,” spokesman Greg Pare said Wednesday.
The PawSox have been pitching a new ballpark that would serve as a replacement for McCoy Stadium, where their lease expires after the 2020 season. Worcester, MA is looking into the possibility of building a new ballpark for the team, and recently confirmed that it had hired two consultants to assist in that effort.
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