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PawSox Still Ironing Out Pawtucket Ballpark Plans With City

Pawtucket ballpark site plan

With no commitment from the team in place, discussions between the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) and Pawtucket over a proposed downtown ballpark are still unfolding. 

Late last month, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation that provides financing for a new PawSox ballpark on the site of an Apex department store in downtown Pawtucket. That does not assure that the project is moving forward, however, as the PawSox have not committed to the plan and have what is believed to be a very intriguing offer from Worcester, MA on the table.

The final legislation left open several uncertainties, as it withdrew state backing of the bonds and instead put it on the back of bondholders, which is likely to result in higher borrowing rates. That is one of the issues that is being sorted out in the ongoing discussions, along with the specific scope of a TIF district envisioned as fulfilling the city’s portion of the funding plan, and how the city will obtain parcels needed for the project. At this point, the team remains noncommittal, noting that it is still sorting through the legislation, while Pawtucket mayor Donald Grebien is stressing the need for patience in the ongoing discussions. More from The Providence Journal:

“This is more than just the PawSox,” Grebien said. “This is about the revitalization of Pawtucket. That’s what we’re working on.”

Bill Wanless, a PawSox spokesman, said in an email: “The PawSox and the City of Pawtucket have been meeting to discover the contents and consequences of the [House Speaker Nicholas] Mattiello Bill. They are in the thick of that examination now. Meanwhile, communication continues concurrently with other cities.”

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, meanwhile, said in an interview he expects a deal to be hammered out.

“Everything is really lined up to make this happen,” McKee said. “It’s just a matter of making sure that all the due diligence is done in a way that is very positive, and to make sure that it’s going to be economically feasible for the community and the PawSox organization.”

Given the scope of the issues that need to be addressed, it is likely going to take some before the discussions reach a resolution. The PawSox have spent the last several years pushing to replace McCoy Stadium–the oldest active facility in Class AAA baseball–but the legislation left several areas for the city and the team to resolve in negotiations if a new Pawtucket ballpark is to become a reality.

Under the Rhode Island legislation, the PawSox would make a $45 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.

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