As time winds down in the Rhode Island legislative session, there is uncertainty surrounding the fate of a proposed new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark.
Debate over the proposed ballpark in downtown Pawtucket has unfolded over much of 2018. In January, the Rhode Island Senate passed a proposal that allows 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. However, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello objected to that plan, and a modified version was released last month.
The revised legislation is similar to what was passed by the Senate, but one key change removes the state from the role of backing bonds issued to fund the project, shifting that burden to a TIF district set up by the city. There have been questions about that proposal in recent weeks, and the PawSox have yet to publicly offer their opinion on the revisions. With the legislative session expected to conclude next week, the House will begin voting on the budget Friday afternoon. As for the proposed ballpark’s fate, there are still many uncertainties. More from The Providence Journal:
With the House set to begin voting on a $9.6-billion state budget Friday, uncertainty surrounds two of the year’s biggest issues — sports betting and a Pawtucket ballpark financing plan.
Pawtucket Red Sox ballpark legislation is not in the budget, nor expected to be added to it. But two weeks after House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello released his own stadium bill to silence from the team owners, there are signs of movement.
“I am going to have a conversation [on the ballpark] with the city in the near future,” Mattiello told The Providence Journal before heading onto the House floor. “I expect I may have something to tell you soon.”
How soon? Mattiello declined to elaborate, but said he had reviewed a series of proposed amendments from Pawtucket. He wouldn’t say what he thought of them.
Given the limited time between now and when legislative session adjourns, any changes to the ballpark’s status would have to happen quickly. The proposed new PawSox ballpark is slated for the site of an Apex department store in downtown Pawtucket, and has been argued by proponents as being a potential catalyst for development in the area. The new ballpark would serve as a replacement for McCoy Stadium–the oldest active Class AAA facility in Minor League Baseball.
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