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Mattiello: PawSox Need to Pay More for New Ballpark

Pawtucket Red SoxRhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is digging in his heels on the financials for a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark, arguing that the team needs to pony up more money to receive his support.

The Rhode Island Senate has already approved a funding plan for a new PawSox ballpark at the Apex Department Store site, calling for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency 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. In addition, the team would pay $12 million after approval of the plan.

For Mattiello, that $53 million isn’t enough, as the $41 million includes rent while at the same time the PawSox will apply naming-rights payments to the equation as well. And, Mattiello adds, the team will receive rental monies on off-days, increasing their financial bounty, seeming to argue that team owners should pay more and that increased revenues from the new ballpark should not be part of the funding package. Paradoxically, he calls for the PawSox to pay more while at the same time questioning the team’s ability to do so, per the Providence Journal:

“I believe that they can put more money in upfront,” Mattiello said. “It is advertised as they are putting in 54 percent of this deal, but the are only putting in $12 million. We are giving them naming rights and they are using that as part of their 54 percent. There are lease obligations. They are making that part of their capital contribution.”

Talking to reporters after the panel discussion featuring General Assembly leaders from both parties, Mattiello said the state would be at risk if the baseball business hit a downturn.

“I haven’t heard from any financial underwriter who supports this deal,” Mattiello said. “There is a lot of weakness in this deal that people aren’t talking about and people are asking to vote on this from an emotional point of view. I have heard there is no positive cash flow in the PawSox. It is thinly capitalized and you need new revenue sources to support the deal into the future in the next 30 years.”

At this point, it’s hard to say what Mattiello wants, unless he wants to see a deal where Rhode Island runs the ballpark and the PawSox are merely a game-day tenant.

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