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Angus Davis suggested PawSox move to Providence in ‘06

Angus Davis, CEO of Swipely and a big baseball fan, suggested back in 2006 that Rhode Island might benefit from the Pawtucket Red Sox moving to the Providence waterfront.

Davis, in his 42-page “Providence PawSox Idea,” said at the time that McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket was in an “obscure location with no surrounding retail or supporting development, and no access to public transit.”

As Davis put it, “the team’s ownership may change in the near future if the team’s present owner (Ben Mondor) retires or dies." He suggested that future new owners move the team to Providence as an "anchor tenant" to "catalyze urban renewal of the area."

Mondor died in 2010, and now the team has been purchased by new owners who are echoing many of the sentiments expressed by Davis back then.

The following is the main body of Davis’ report, dated Aug. 3, 2006:

Situation:

The greater Boston area, including Rhode Island, is the dominant sports market in the country, particularly for professional baseball, where fans have a fever pitch for the Boston Red Sox. However, historic Fenway Park does not have enough supply to meet the demand of the local market, and the stadium was built in a different era. Fans pay the highest price in baseball - 30 percent more than the next closest city, and 70 percent more than average - for a sub-par experience that too often includes cramped seats, blocked views, a lack of concessions and long lines for disgusting bathrooms.

Pawtucket is home to Boston's AAA minor league team. Ownership changes in Boston have committed the team to a new philosophy of developing its player talent largely from within, making Pawtucket an exciting team that boasts many "major" stars despite its "minor" status. Tickets to the AAA Red Sox cost less than $10. However, the Pawtucket ballpark is located in an obscure location with no surrounding retail or supporting development, and no access to public transit. The team's ownership may change in the near future if the team's present owner retires or dies.

The area of Providence's waterfront near Allens Avenue is a dilapidated eyesore that is home to strip clubs, abandoned warehouses and corpses of an industrial past. This waterfront neighborhood represents a prime redevelopment opportunity that could encourage a mix of residential, affordable housing, and supporting retail to create an "all within walking distance" neighborhood. The site would also support a large marina that would benefit the city with a new revenue stream and attract "water tourism" to better compete with Newport and Greenwich Bay. What the site lacks is an "Anchor Tenant."

Opportunity:

Move the AAA Red Sox franchise from Pawtucket to Providence. Build a miniature version of a new Fenway Park (on par with San Francisco's Pac Bell Park or Baltimore's new Camden Yards) on the Providence waterfront as the new "Anchor Tenant" to catalyze urban renewal of the area. Attract Sox fans throughout the greater Boston region with an affordable and fun family baseball experience. Use the venue to attract big-name acts for outdoor concerts to compete with the likes of Tweeter Center. Give Red Sox fans the baseball experience they've always wanted with unblocked views from comfortable seats, clean restrooms and top of the line concessions. Surround the "anchor tenant" ballpark with coordinated redevelopment including retail, restaurants and residential. Link these areas with a family boardwalk to encourage a "walkable" neighborhood. Tie the neighborhood into Amtrak/MBT A with a light rail solution, and extend existing bike paths to the area. Build a large marina for "Red Sox Cove" to attract boaters from throughout the state and add a stop here for the Newport-Providence fast ferry. Get local neighbor Johnson & Wales into the act by developing an education program in "sports hospitality" and offer students opportunities in park operations.

This project has many similarities to the redevelopment of Rincon Point / South Beach, a neighborhood at the southern end of San Francisco, California where I lived for three years. Enclosed find various supporting materials for this concept.

He then provides many pages of documentation on the features of other parks and suggestions for how they could be featured at a Providence stadium.

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