State officials, public ask what’s next for PawSox stadium
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Now that the Pawtucket Red Sox have officially ended their pursuit of waterfront land in downtown Providence for a new ballpark, many people are wondering what that means for the future of the team and the Ocean State.
Gov. Gina Raimondo says she wants to try to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island as long as it makes sense for taxpayers.
Mayor Jorge Elorza says he would support a stadium in Providence if it’s in the best interest of the city and its taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the team, led by Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, says it’s considering its options.
Raimondo said Monday that she wants to see if the state and the team can find another location.
“That particular parcel of land had a lot of obstacles,” Raimondo said. “It made sense to everybody to see if we can find another place that works better and that’s not so expensive.”
PawSox spokeswoman Patti Doyle wouldn’t say whether the team had received proposals for alternative sites or if it would stay in Rhode Island.
Elorza told The Associated Press he would support a stadium in Providence — as long as the city and the taxpayers are protected and the stadium helped develop its surroundings.
“I want to make sure the city’s not out of pocket for even a dime of building and operating a stadium,” Elorza said.
The mayor said he had supported at least one alternative site, a 5.3-acre plot of land in downtown Providence called Victory Place. But Rhode Island health system Lifespan bought that this month.
Lifespan isn’t speaking with the PawSox and doesn’t have any immediate plans for the property, according to a spokeswoman.
Lucchino has said the team was “urged” to consider other sites, though he didn’t specify what those might be.
“We will now begin to consider all other options and proposals we receive, including city officials’ suggestion of potential other sites in Providence,” he said in a statement.
The state and the team agreed there were too many hurdles with the riverfront property that used to be the site of Interstate 195, according to Raimondo.
The land was freed up by the relocation of the interstate and sold to the I-195 Commission, a state agency, and Johnson & Wales University for $43 million in 2012.
The Federal Highway Administration told the state last month that the 5-acre parcel the PawSox wanted would need to be sold at fair market value before a stadium could be built there.
Earlier this month, Brown University said it wanted $15 million for the land it owns that’s part of the area the PawSox wanted. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said that hurdle, plus the economic incentives Providence wanted for hosting a stadium, made the deal less likely.
The team’s original proposal in April seeking $120 million in subsidies faced strenuous public opposition that continued as the team and state officials worked behind closed doors to renegotiate a deal.
State officials have yet to acknowledge whether public opposition played a role in the deal’s demise.
Stadium opponents plan to submit a referendum that would preclude any stadium in Providence from being subsidized.
Meanwhile, the I-195 Commission on Monday resumed talks about using the land for a public park, which was determined to be the best use of the land when the state acquired it.
STILL ‘NO’ TO PAWTUCKET?
The team still refuses to consider staying at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, according to Doyle.
“We don’t view McCoy as a long-term option for the team,” Doyle said.
In May, the team announced that a feasibility study determined it would cost at least $65 million to renovate McCoy to catch up with other Triple-A ballparks. The team has declined to share the feasibility study with the public.