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RI Senate President: No Vote on PawSox Ballpark Until January

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

As confirmed by the Senate President of Rhode Island, the state senate will not vote on a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark until January. 

State officials have been debating the finances of a proposed PawSox ballpark, which would be constructed as part of an $83 million project. For the funding model, the PawSox would pay $45 million ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency), Rhode Island would pay $23 million (with Pawtucket committed to paying the money back), and the city would pay $15 million.

Though ballpark backers were hoping to have the state vote on the plan before year’s end, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio says that a vote will not take place in December. While Ruggerio wants to vote on the proposal early in the January legislative session, he added that a revised financing plan could be presented now and the senate’s vote. More from The Providence Journal:

In a brief interview at the State House, Ruggerio said Senate leaders are still waiting for a report from the state’s auditor general on what he learned from his own look at the team’s previously undisclosed finances.

Assuming that report arrives within the next several days, Ruggerio said the Senate Finance Committee will unveil a revised version of the PawSox financing bill next week, and then vote to “hold it for further study,″ so the public can see it, discuss it and debate it before the General Assembly convenes for its 2018 session on Jan. 2.

Ruggerio said the reworked legislation will be formally introduced on opening day of the session, and likely posted for hearing — and a potential vote — by the Senate Finance Committee two days later.

PawSox backers anticipated a vote by the full Senate before the end of the year. But with the new legislative session little more than a month away and holidays approaching, Ruggerio said there is no reason to rush the legislation. “That’s not what we want to convey,″ he said. (Another factor: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has said repeatedly the House is not returning before the new session starts to vote on the PawSox legislation.)

One of the concerns that has been raised is whether Pawtucket will be able to generate enough revenue to pay back its share of the project. The ballpark is slated for the site of an Apex department store in downtown Pawtucket, and mayor Donald Grebien has cited interest in potential development near the site as a factor that could help the project succeed. Along with Pawtucket, Worcester, MA is among the cities that has been connected to the team in relation to its new ballpark search.

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