With Worcester ready to pounce on PawSox, local officials point to potential lost opportunity

With Worcester ready to pounce on PawSox, local officials point to potential lost opportunity

PAWTUCKET – As Worcester ups the ante in trying to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to that Massachusetts city, local officials are highlighting the potential lost opportunity if the team ends up leaving.

State leaders still haven’t committed to a General Assembly vote on a financing deal for a new downtown Pawtucket stadium, leaving the proposal in question.

Worcester’s bid for the PawSox might still be seen as a long shot by some, but officials there, apparently seeing an opening as Rhode Island leaders send mixed signals on keeping the team, have hired consultants to help its bid.

Pawtucket officials, meanwhile, are emphasizing that losing the PawSox is about much more than losing a baseball team.

Jeanne Boyle, Pawtucket’s new director of commerce, said the city has seen significant interest in the area around the proposed stadium across from the Slater Mill. She said she met with two developers interested in doing projects because of the stadium.

“They’re very excited about the potential,” she said.

Boyle said she has an appointment with another developer set for later this week.

Boyle said officials feel they provided all the information requested of them during a state hearing process, addressing questions and concerns as they came up. She said lawmakers asked fair questions, and if the structure of the deal ends up being better in the end, “I think the city benefits.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has called for the Commerce Corporation to renegotiate its deal with the PawSox, saying he’s concerned that taxpayers of both Pawtucket and the state might be at risk under the current proposal.

On the Senate site, lawmakers appear to be moving toward a vote on the $83 million stadium proposal following seven Senate Finance Committee hearings. The proposal calls for $45 million from the team, $23 million from the state, and $15 million from the city of Pawtucket. The city and state shares of the funding are projected to be paid back out of revenues from the stadium and ancillary development around the public ballpark, though a number of lawmakers have expressed concern about what happens if the development doesn’t happen fast enough.

Pawtucket officials emphasize that even under a worst-case scenario, where no development happens right away and the city is on the hook for the $900,000 in debt payments, the money could be absorbed without raising taxes due to other debts coming off the books.

PawSox officials declined to comment this week.

Mayor Donald Grebien called the stadium proposal “a great project and a catalyst” for the future of Pawtucket, the Blackstone Valley, and the state.

“There’s so much potential here for development and growing our community,” he said. “We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need to keep the PawSox home in Pawtucket, and we need this investment and economic development in our state. Now is Pawtucket’s time. Let’s get this moving.”

Comments

If this is such a GREAT DEAL .....then why will the BILLIONAIRE owners not pay for this themselves and pocket ALL the profits ? Something STINKS with this ! KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY POCKETS !