Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark financing plan is dead on arrival in the House and would not pass. His recommendation: revise the bill to require more PawSox funding.
Mattiello was once a proponent of public financing of a new PawSox ballpark, but he’s switched his position in recent years. Currently, the PawSox are lobbying for the approval of a new ballpark in downtown Pawtucket. The financial framework for the project calls for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to borrow a maximum of $85 million, with the PawSox making a $41 million contribution, the state paying $26 million, and the city allocating $18 million. Increased economic activity around the ballpark would cover the public share of spending, according to advocates, and on that basis the legislation was approved by the Rhode Island Senate.
In public statements, Mattiello says opposition amongst his constituents led him to declare the bill dead. From WPRI.com:
“The Senate bill is dead in the state of the Rhode Island. Two-thirds of Rhode Islanders do not support it and therefore, the House will not support it,” Mattiello said during a taping of Dan York State of Mind….
The speaker said he went door-to-door in his district to ask residents directly about how they felt about the proposal.
“Sometimes if you don’t ask, you really don’t know what your constituents are thinking,” he said. “I went out in the fall and I was surprised at how opposed people are to public financing [for the stadium].”
His solution: revise the bill to put more of the risk on the PawSox. Whether that will fly with the PawSox ownership when there’s the potential of public funding for a Worcester ballpark, of course, remains to be seen.
The PawSox have proposed the new ballpark as a replacement for McCoy Stadium, which is currently the oldest active facility in Triple-A baseball.
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