The city of Pawtucket is suing the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League)–soon to be the Worcester Red Sox–for a payout to make up for deficient maintenance and repairs to McCoy Stadium as the team’s lease ends January 31.
The lawsuit, filed in Rhode Island Superior Court, says the PawSox failed to “perform required maintenance, repair and other obligations in connection with the team’s lease and use of City-owned McCoy Stadium.” The lawsuit does not specify a specific number associated with the ballpark condition and does not actually ask that the PawSox pay for specific repairs, not does it outline the alleged deficiencies in the condition of the 1942 facility. Instead, the lawsuit asks for money.
“This is another unfortunate piece of the Pawtucket Red Sox saga. The city of Pawtucket worked hard to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox here, but the long-standing team will no longer be playing here in Rhode Island,” said Mayor Donald Grebien in a press statement.
The réponse from the PawSox? This statement: “The Pawtucket Red Sox were stunned to learn of this unfounded lawsuit from our friends and long-time partners at the City of Pawtucket. We will now allow the legal process to run its course, and therefore have no further comment at this time.”
You can read the lawsuit here:
The lawsuit comes after the PawSox formally notified the city that the team would be leaving McCoy Stadium at the end of the current lease, on January 31. As noted, the lawsuit doesn’t specify damages, but the basic thrust is that the team owes for deferred maintenance on a ballpark that opened in 1942:
A spokesman for the city did not offer specifics on exactly what kind of bill the city is looking to have paid, but the lawsuit cites a 2016 study detailing the need for some $35 million in needed upgrades. The suit demands judgment “in an amount greatly exceeding the jurisdictional requirements of this court, together with interest and costs, and all other just and proper relief.”…
The team previously sending its notice that it will not extend its stay beyond Jan. 31 “means the city of Pawtucket will be exposed for the entire facility and upkeep which was originally the responsibility of the state and PawSox, leaving the burden on the taxpayers to fix or knock down the facility,” said Mayor Donald Grebien.
“The city of Pawtucket’s primary responsibility continues to be to preserve and protect our taxpayers’ investments,” he added. “The city, months ago, engaged legal and professional counsel to assist and review all the agreements to protect the taxpayers. Through their due diligence and the failure and refusal fully to perform required maintenance, repair, and other obligations in connection with the exiting lease, the city has filed suit in Superior Court in order to ensure that the commitments of the lease are met and the city is protected.”
As noted, the lawsuit does not specify what deficiencies in the ballpark were not addressed by the PawSox under the terms of their lease. And the 2016 report from Pendulum indicating $35 million would need to be spent to upgrade McCoy Stadium came after a 2015 report from Populous saying it would cost much more–$65 million–to upgrade McCoy Stadium in a way that would attract development to the area. And the 2016 Pendulum report was not limited to McCoy Stadium maintenance: Pendulum was asked to study both McCoy Stadium and the surrounding area, specifically addressing what it would take to both renovate the ballpark and create additional development opportunities. (And, as noted, one option for the city is to tear down the ballpark, which makes the notion of forcing the PawSox to pay for damages a little outlandish.) So it will be interesting to see exactly what the city expected the PawSox to do with McCoy Stadium under the terms of the lease.
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