As their ballpark financing bill faces hurdles in the Rhode Island house, the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) are prepared to discuss the plan, but warn that Worcester is a viable alternative.
Earlier this week, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said that a Pawtucket ballpark financing plan passed by the Senate is dead on arrival in the House and will not pass. In the Senate version of the bill, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency would be allowed to borrow a maximum of $85 million for the project, with the PawSox making a $41 million contribution, the state paying $26 million, and the city allocating $18 million. While dismissing the chances of the senate’s version being approved in the house, Mattiello suggested that the house could revise the bill to require more PawSox funding.
Following Mattiello’s remarks, the PawSox said that they plan to work with the house as officials discuss the bill and believe that a proposed new Pawtucket ballpark is still alive. However, the team is warning that Worcester, MA–a city that has been considering its own pursuit of the team–is a viable alternative. More from The Telegram & Gazette:
“It was nuanced,” PawSox spokesman Guy Dufault said of Mattiello’s comment. “What he basically said was that the Senate bill was dead. They will hold hearings, they will make amendments to the Senate bill, as it always happens on these major pieces of legislation. They’ll make amendments and call it the ‘House’ version and that’s pretty common practice.
“I think he probably used harsher words than he should have used by saying it’s dead. … We’re moving forward with the House. We’ll go through all the hearings; we look forward to the hearings. We had a very skeptical Senate when we started and got an overwhelming vote of support out of them, and I think the same thing occurs in the House.”
While the PawSox believe the Rhode Island proposal is alive, they also believe that time may be running out.
“We take Worcester very, very seriously,” Dufault said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Worcester is a viable alternative to the Providence metro area. We need to take that extraordinarily seriously. I think the people and the members of the House of Representatives have to take it that way because it’s real, it’s going to be viable, and I think it’s something we should be very concerned about.
There are many questions remaining as to what type of offer Worcester could put together for the team, but previous reports have indicated that the city’s Canal District is being eyed as a new ballpark site. The PawSox have been seeking a new ballpark to replace McCoy Stadium, where their lease will expire after the 2020 season.
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