In lawsuit, city seeks substantial payout from PawSox

In lawsuit, city seeks substantial payout from PawSox

PAWTUCKET – An outside expert would say that this break-up is well past the point of no return.

City officials are suing the outgoing Pawtucket Red Sox baseball team in Superior Court, alleging that the team has failed to live up to its obligations to maintain and repair McCoy Stadium.

The action seeks unspecified damages related to the team’s failure and refusal to fully perform required maintenance, repair and other obligations under its lease.

“This is another unfortunate piece of the Pawtucket Red Sox saga. The city of Pawtucket worked hard to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox here, but the long-standing team will no longer be playing here in Rhode Island,” said Mayor Donald Grebien in a statement.

The team, which is departing for a new stadium in Worcester, Mass., for the 2021 season, responded with its own statement on Tuesday.

“The Pawtucket Red Sox were stunned to learn of this unfounded lawsuit from our friends and long-time partners at the city of Pawtucket,” said spokesman Bill Wanless. “We will now allow the legal process to run its course, and therefore have no further comment at this time.”

A spokesman for the city did not offer specifics on exactly what kind of bill the city is looking to have paid, but the lawsuit cites a 2016 study detailing the need for some $35 million in needed upgrades. The suit demands judgment “in an amount greatly exceeding the jurisdictional requirements of this court, together with interest and costs, and all other just and proper relief.”

The city, according to the suit, sent formal notice to the team last October that it had failed to fulfill its obligations. A response from the PawSox last November stated that the team was in full compliance. If the team departs at the end of its lease on Jan. 31 without completing the work, it will leave the city, as owner of the stadium, with costly deficiencies to address, it states.

The team previously sending its notice that it will not extend its stay beyond Jan. 31 “means the city of Pawtucket will be exposed for the entire facility and upkeep which was originally the responsibility of the state and PawSox, leaving the burden on the taxpayers to fix or knock down the facility,” said Grebien.

“The city of Pawtucket’s primary responsibility continues to be to preserve and protect our taxpayers’ investments,” he added. “The city, months ago, engaged legal and professional counsel to assist and review all the agreements to protect the taxpayers. Through their due diligence and the failure and refusal fully to perform required maintenance, repair, and other obligations in connection with the exiting lease, the city has filed suit in Superior Court in order to ensure that the commitments of the lease are met and the city is protected.”

The city and team continue to have conversations to allow the PawSox to stay in the facility on a month-to-month basis to help in the team’s transition past the lease.

“The city is always willing to continue fruitful partnerships so long as our taxpayers are protected,” said Grebien.