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PawSox: Providence stadium proposal is dead


Owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox announced Saturday evening that Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has determined that the I-195 site on the Providence River is not suitable for construction of a new ballpark, and is urging the team to look at alternate locations. The club will therefore suspend its pursuit of that parcel, and it will cease its public campaign for the I-195 riverfront site, according to a release.

"We believe the site along the Providence River is exceptional, and it would have been a win-win-win for the state, the city, and the PawSox, and we tried hard to bring it to fruition," said PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino. "We have received word that the site still confronts certain obstacles and lacks the necessary support, and we have been urged to consider other possible sites.

“We will now begin to consider all other options and proposals we receive, including city officials’ suggestion of potential other sites in Providence," added Lucchino. "We thank I-195 Chairman Joe Azrack and economist Andrew Zimbalist for their months of dedicated, professional negotiations on the state’s behalf that led us to a draft agreement in late July."

The club will now devote its energy to preparing for the 2016 season in Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium, but will continue to listen to ideas and plans regarding the long-term future of the franchise.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello released a statement.

"It is disappointing that negotiations have ended at the I-195 property. I thought that would have been a very successful location," he said. "A stadium there would have brought the community together and would have acted as a catalyst for further economic development in Providence.

Unfortunately, said Mattiello, "different entities put artificially high costs on a deal, which proved to be insurmountable. The direction the Pawtucket Red Sox take now is entirely up to them. I continue to believe that the PawSox are a valuable asset to Rhode Island and I will consider other viable options that the team may bring forward."

With House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello declaring on Friday that negotiations with owners of the PawSox for a stadium on the old I-195 land in Providence are over, it appears that the team's days in Rhode Island could be numbered. A source is telling me that team officials will announce next week, likely on Monday, that they're expanding their search for a new site to the rest of Rhode Island and beyond the state's borders.

The announcement is also expected to emphasize that the PawSox owners do not see McCoy Stadium as a viable option for the team going forward. There are serious questions about whether state officials would be willing to entertain any type of arrangement to finance improvements to McCoy even if the team wanted to stay.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has called for Gov. Gina Raimondo and team owners to move forward on a plan for renovating McCoy Stadium, but team owners have given no indication that owners are any more open to doing so.

Spokeswoman Patti Doyle stopped short of confirming that talks for a Providence site have ended, but told The Breeze on Saturday that "we're coming to the end of our internal due diligence on the site in Providence relative to the new information from Brown University and the city of Providence a couple of weeks ago."

Doyle said she expects team owners "have an announcement in the short term" on where they'll turn next. The four options are to move on to a new site in Providence, renovate McCoy Stadium and stay there, move to another site in Pawtucket or another Rhode Island community, or move out of state.


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