January 23, 2018

R.I. House speaker: PawSox bill dead

Grant Welker
A new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium could be built at the Apex store site between I-95 and the Slater Mill.

Speaking on a Rhode Island talk show, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the House will not vote on the Senate version of the $83-million stadium deal for the Pawtucket Red Sox as the team continues to talk with Worcester officials about relocating to the city.

On Dan Yorke's State of Mind on local Fox affiliate WNAC-TV, Mattiello on Monday called the current version of the deal, which has already been approved by the Senate, dead.

"Two-thirds of the state of Rhode island do not support it, and therefore the House will not support it," he said, adding he's not scheduling a vote on the House calendar at this time.

The Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has also been in talks with Worcester officials about a possible ballpark in the Canal District. Team officials have been seen in Worcester several times and the city acknowledges it is trying to woo the team, but the PawSox have said virtually nothing to publicly acknowledge those conversations.

Worcester is even exploring the possibility of an expanded downtown renewal plan to accommodate the ballpark and has hired two specialists to assist in the negotiations.

Michael Vigneaux, a spokesman for City Hall, said Tuesday morning those PawSox talks are ongoing.

Mattiello told Yorke he's gone door-to-door and public opinion is not in favor of the deal, which has the team putting up $45 million with the city and state contributing $15 million and $23 million, respectively, for a stadium at Slater Mill in Pawtucket, an underdeveloped commercial property.

That funding breakdown, however, isn't good enough for Mattiello.

"There's got to be a lot of risk shifting," he said. "The only side of the equation with any risk is the taxpayers."

The Senate Finance Committee and other legislators have spent about 30 hours of the legislation, which would require the team to put up the first $12 million in equity, a consideration included in a revised version of the bill the Senate approved.

The approved bill would transfer half of the revenue from naming rights to the city, a projected $250,000 annually, according to the legislature.

If the project costs more than $83 million, the team will foot those costs. If the construction comes in at less than $83 million, savings will be distributed at a pro-rata basis to the team, state and city at rates of 46.5 percent, 32.4 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.

Read more

R.I. House FinCom passes PawSox bill

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