Finance Committee will report on stadium Thursday, but no vote yet

Finance Committee will report on stadium Thursday, but no vote yet

PAWTUCKET – The Senate Finance Committee will convene this Thursday, Dec. 7, to issue its final report and bring forward revised legislation on a proposed new baseball stadium in downtown Pawtucket.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio on Monday received letters from the Office of the Auditor General and Rhode Island Commerce Corp. after both independently reviewed the finances of the Pawtucket Red Sox, subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

The Senate Finance Committee had insisted on the review of the team’s finances prior to moving forward in the public hearing process. Ruggerio requested the auditor general’s review so the committee can make a determination about whether the team is financially healthy enough to support its obligations under the partnership proposed in pending legislation.

“The auditor general and the Commerce Corporation, in its separate review, determined that the team will be able to meet its debt service obligations under the proposal,” stated a release from Ruggerio’s office.

The revised legislation will be posted at www.pawsoxhearings.com for public inspection following Thursday’s committee meeting, tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Rhode Island Statehouse, but will not be voted on by the committee until the new legislative session convenes in January.

Both entities stated in their findings that the PawSox will need increased attendance or other new revenue sources, such as naming rights, to cover its new debt if an $83 million stadium deal is approved.

The team has cited studies and success stories from other stadiums showing increased attendance once a new ballpark is built. Jesse Saglio, managing director and head of investments for the Commerce Corp., pointed to a 5 percent increase in overall attendance league-wide over the past decade, as well as data suggesting that new ballpark attendance by the third year of operation was on average 97 percent greater than attendance in the final year of the old ballpark.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien this week responded to news that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker supports offering financial support to bring the PawSox to Worcester by urging Rhode Island lawmakers to vote in favor of a financing plan calling for $45 million from the team, $23 million from the state and $15 million from the city.

“Rhode Island needs to take the bat off its shoulder and swing,” said Grebien in a statement. “It’s no surprise that Massachusetts sees this valuable investment and the development that will happen with this ballpark. This is why Rhode Island’s mayors, businesses, residents, chambers of commerce, labor and state leaders have been clear that the PawSox belong in Pawtucket.”

The parties “have one of the strongest deals in recent history on the table now, ready to be signed, ready to put cranes in the sky and Rhode Islanders back to work, ready to revitalize Pawtucket’s downtown, ready to keep our beloved PawSox in Rhode Island for generations to come,” said Grebien. “We cannot afford to once again be labeled as the state that can’t get out of its own way.”

Comments

I have been to so many PAWSOX games and hope they stay in Pawtucket. Downtown will be great again