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Grebien Urges Legislature to Pass Modified PawSox Ballpark Plan

Pawtucket ballpark site plan

Citing the risk of losing the team, Pawtucket mayor Donald Grebien is urging Rhode Island lawmakers to pass a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark. 

State lawmakers have been debating a modified ballpark funding bill that was unveiled last month by Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. His version of the bill resembles one that was passed by the Rhode Island Senate in January, but 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.

That plan has not been passed by lawmakers and, with the current legislative session winding down, some officials are hoping that the issue can be addressed quickly. On Tuesday, Grebien urged lawmakers to pass a bill by the end of this week–noting the PawSox’s ongoing discussions with Worcester, MA officials about the possibility of a new ballpark there. Grebien is also hoping that lawmakers will consider a few adjustments to Mattiello’s proposal. More from The Providence Journal:

The changes: allowing the city to finance the stadium with variable rate bonds and making sure the city can take land through eminent domain for recreational facilities that create jobs, he told the House Finance Committee.

Whether those changes will make the deal attractive to the Pawtucket Red Sox, who have been conspicuously silent on Mattiello’s stadium plan since he released it several weeks ago, is unclear.

No representatives from the team testified or attended the House Finance Committee hearing where Grebien outlined his proposed changes.

“They are still committed to listening and hearing what the bills are, but Worcester is on the table,” Grebien told reporters before the hearing on where the team stands. “We need to send them a clear signal … My instincts are: absolutely they want to be here.”

Since Mattiello’s modified bill was released, it has been subject to plenty of questions, including its effect on borrowing costs for the state, city, and PawSox. In the Senate bill that was passed earlier this year, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency would be allowed to borrow a maximum of $85 million for the project. The PawSox would make a $41 million contribution, with the state paying $26 million and the city allocating $18 million. In addition, the team would pay $12 million after approval of the plan.

The proposed Pawtucket ballpark is slated for the site of an Apex department store in the city’s downtown, and has been pitched by proponents as a potential catalyst for development in the area. It would replace McCoy Stadium–oldest active Class AAA facility in Minor League Baseball–as the team’s home.

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