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PawSox Ballpark Legislation Modified

Pawsox Ballpark at Slater Mill rendering

Rhode Island lawmakers have made changes to legislation for a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark, including one that affects naming rights proceeds. 

In early December, the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee released a revised plan to finance the construction of a new PawSox ballpark in downtown Pawtucket. While that proposal included several changes from an earlier plan, one of the more notable tweaks was how the ballpark naming rights revenue would be distributed. Rather than allowing the PawSox to collect the full proceeds from the naming rights sale, the revised bill stipulated that the revenue be evenly split between the team and the City of Pawtucket.

Now that state lawmakers are set to begin discussing the proposal during the General Assembly session, some additional changes have been made. As unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr, the most recent version of the legislation makes a few tweaks, including language that calls for the City of Pawtucket to receive $250,000 annually in naming rights revenue. More from The Providence Journal:

Conley said he has spoken with team executives since unveiling the new legislation in December, but not with PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino. However, the team was not aware of the latest changes introduced on Tuesday, Conley said. Asked why, he replied, “literally because I’ve been working on them right up to this conversation,” which continued as the bell rang, calling legislators into session.

Conley said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio has been “100-percent supportive” of the PawSox legislation, and Conley said he’s hopeful that when House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello reviews the legislation “he’ll be convinced that it’s a great project for the state of Rhode Island.” Conley said team executives have told him “they very much want to stay in Pawtucket,” and they haven’t balked at the change to split stadium-naming rights revenue with the city. Conley said his finance team’s research indicates increased attendance and projected tax revenue will raise enough money to pay back the bonds.

In addition, the revised legislation features some other changes, including a stipulation that the PawSox are obligated to cover overruns on ballpark construction costs, but not overruns from land acquisition.  The funding model, meanwhile, calls for $41 million from the team, on top of $26 million from the state, and $18 million from the city. The PawSox are considering their options for replacing McCoy Stadium, where their lease will expire after the 2020 season, and have also received interest from officials in Worcester, MA.

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