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PawSox Ballpark Bill Moves to House Vote

Pawtucket ballpark site plan

Following passage by a committee, legislation for a proposed Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark will be considered in a Rhode Island House of Representatives vote on Friday. 

Revised legislation for the proposed downtown Pawtucket ballpark, which was released last month by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, was considered by the Rhode Island House Finance Committee on Thursday. In a 14-4 vote, the committee approved the legislation on Thursday afternoon, sending it to the full House of Representatives.

Should the PawSox ballpark bill pass the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon, it will then proceed to the Rhode Island Senate. More from The Providence Journal:

Immediately the bill was raced to the House floor for a debate that started 15 minutes before Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s 10 p.m. deadline. It was hurtling toward a vote when a request by Providence Democratic Rep. Moira Walsh for more time to read the bill convinced Mattiello to stop.

The House is now scheduled to take up the PawSox bill at 3 p.m. Friday, previously planned as the last legislative day of the year. If it passes, it would then go to the Senate, which passed a different version of stadium legislation earlier this year.

The House bill would repay borrowing for construction of the ballpark, estimated to cost $83 million, with team, city and state revenue generated from an area surrounding the stadium.

Unlike the Senate version, the bill revised by Mattiello’s staff does not include any state guarantee of stadium bonds, meaning it is expected to come with higher borrowing costs. The Senate bill included up to $14 million in financing costs, including fees, capitalized interest, and a debt reserve. It did not include annual interest payments.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill that allows the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency 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. Mattiello had criticized that legislation for putting too significant of a risk on state taxpayers, and eventually released his revised bill.

If approved, the proposed ballpark would be constructed at the site of an Apex department store in downtown Pawtucket. The PawSox have been searching for a replacement to McCoy Stadium, the oldest active Class AAA facility in Minor League Baseball.

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