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Lucchino agrees that stadium deal will take more time

If the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are serious about staying in Rhode Island, they had little choice but to strike the tone CEO Larry Lucchino struck Tuesday.

Gov. Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed are all smart politicians, and they know many Rhode Islanders have no appetite for finalizing a deal to build a new stadium in Providence by the end of the General Assembly session.

A stunning 98 percent of emails to Raimondo’s office since February have expressed opposition to a Providence stadium deal, according to a story from . The anti-stadium sentiment was on display when a Rhode Island resident claiming to be from Newport went on sports radio in Boston Tuesday to tell the hosts that Rhode Islanders have turned on the Boston Red Sox because of Lucchino's plan to move the PawSox to Providence.

It was little surprise that Lucchino, in a letter Tuesday to the powerful trio of lawmakers, agreed that it’s not feasible to get an agreement in place by the time lawmakers head home this month.

“As we have discussed, and after careful consideration of the circumstances surrounding our ongoing negotiations to reach a renegotiated and restructured ballpark proposal for downtown Providence, we agree that it’s appropriate to take more time in the process, and to allow for additional public participation in this discussion,” he said.

Particularly in light of Mattiello’s recent comments that there will not be enough time to introduce a proposal in the final days of the session, “we fully endorse a continuing and comprehensive discussion to ensure a ballpark proposal that most benefits the state and its citizens,” he added.

Lucchino said PawSox owners still believe that a “state-of-the-art, multi-purpose downtown park in Providence” that meets the state’s needs on many levels “will be well received by much of the public and by the decision makers who are entrusted to act on behalf of the public.”

Lucchino pledged that owners “will use this time to ensure the public is better informed.”

The death of PawSox President Jim Skeffington last month “has necessitated a new and different rhythm to our joint effort” to get a deal done, said Lucchino. His words were a clear departure from Skeffington’s earlier calls for a deal before the General Assembly let out.

“I fully acknowledge that I don’t have the same history in and knowledge of Rhode Island that Jim had, but I hope to develop my own experiences and relationships, and I believe this new approach will give all of us the best chance to join together and craft an ideal plan,” he said.

Lucchino declared that the owners are still committed to moving the team from Pawtucket to Providence and will “seek a plan that benefits this generation and future generations of Rhode Island citizens.”

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