Mayor: Fireworks still in the plan for the future

Mayor: Fireworks still in the plan for the future

Fireworks to celebrate Independence Day explode behind a wooden sculpture of PawSox mascot “Paws” at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. The fireworks were set to music and thrilled the crowd following the PawSox game, Wednesday night, July 3. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)

PAWTUCKET – With the city’s biggest fireworks displays of the year last week came plenty of sorrowful emojis from residents worried about what will happen to these summer night extravaganzas when the sponsoring Pawtucket Red Sox leave the city after next season.

But Mayor Donald Grebien says the city expects to continue the fireworks tradition “in some form as long as it is financially feasible to do so.”

“When the time comes, the city, in collaboration with the Fireworks Committee, will work with the council, the team and others to find the best way to continue affording this great tradition to our residents,” he said.

Representatives from the Fireworks Committee have told The Breeze the committee’s fundraising work has largely stalled out in the face of the team leaving.

With multiple baseball proposals on the table for the reuse of McCoy Stadium, fireworks could be part of a partnership with a new tenant.

PawSox part-owner Mike Tamburro has one of six proposals for the stadium, “continuing the rich tradition of affiliated Minor League Baseball in Pawtucket.” That proposal, along with the others, is part of ongoing discussions between local and state officials.

Tamburro has not returned calls for comment on whether his proposal is gaining traction. He will need permission from the PawSox before bringing another affiliated team to McCoy.

Another bid would see Frank Boulton bring Atlantic League professional baseball to McCoy, a proposal that wouldn’t need team or league approvals.

A spokesman for Grebien said in late June that the city continued to work alongside CommerceRI in evaluating the process for reviewing the stadium proposals. Bid information is confidential and officials are not going into details, he said.

On fireworks, Grebien said this week that the city and its residents have always valued the displays leading up to the Fourth of July, which have become “a Rhode Island Independence Day tradition.” The displays have long been a partnership between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the city, he said. The value that the PawSox have brought to the community is not just found in the team itself, but in wider civic engagement in Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley, he said.

The PawSox put on nearly 20 fireworks displays per season, with the biggest and best being the July 3 fireworks after the game.

Four other bids responding to a spring request for proposals for the reuse of McCoy include:

• Level Exchange, which is located at The Guild brewing complex up the road from McCoy in Pawtucket, is proposing the creation of a hub centered around the music industry in Pawtucket. In addition to infrastructure to support the entertainment industry, this approach would include all other aspects needed to sustain such a live-work-play area.

• AJAX Advisors LLC is proposing to bring professional sports to Pawtucket with independent professional soccer in a new stadium in downtown Pawtucket and the conversion of McCoy into a light industrial use.

• Brett Johnson, of Fortuitous Partners, is proposing to bring a United Soccer League franchise to downtown Pawtucket and envisions construction of a multi-sport stadium and ancillary development. The proposal includes a new recreational park with six multipurpose fields that can be used for soccer, lacrosse, or football at the McCoy site.

• Native Waters Investment LLC is proposing to build a family entertainment center and riverfront park in Pawtucket. It would be located on approximately 25 acres of land in the I-95 corridor. Some features could include an indoor mega coaster, children’s play park, rock climbing wall, overhead zip-line course, bowling alleys, a 7D theater, a variety of restaurants and retail outlets and a riverboat hotel.

Leela Kolleh, 21 months, of Pawtucket, left, enjoys a spinning light-up toy as she waits for the fireworks at McCoy Stadium.
Fireworks to celebrate Independence Day fill the sky at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. The fireworks set to music, thrilled he crowd following the Paw Sox game, Wednesday night.
A portion of the crowd around McCoy stadium in Pawtucket, watch the Paw Sox post-game fireworks