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1/18/2018 Pawtucket State Representatives favor PawSox stadium deal, look to mitigate risks to Rhode Island taxpayers
STATE HOUSE — Four state representatives from Pawtucket, Mary Duffy Messier, Carlos E. Tobon, Jean Philippe Barros and Raymond H. Johnston Jr., have pledged to work with their colleagues in the House of Representatives to further revise legislation that would provide public support for a new baseball stadium in downtown Pawtucket in order to reduce the risk to taxpayers. The stadium would be the future home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The legislation (2018-S 2001,2018-S 2002), proposed by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) and passed by the Senate, authorizes the state to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark. It would also permit redevelopment agencies to finance the construction of projects for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, institutional, public or other purposes contemplated by a redevelopment plan.

“After reviewing all the details of the plan, it’s plain that this is a good deal not only for the city of Pawtucket, but the state of Rhode Island as well, once we further mitigate the risk to the taxpayers,” said Representative Messier (D-Dist. 62). “The stadium will pay for itself from revenue from the team and the stadium’s visitors.”

As the deal now stands, the $83 million project will be funded through a combination of borrowing on behalf of all three partners (the PawSox, the city of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island) and a team equity contribution. The team would cover the majority of the costs, contributing $12 million in equity and principal debt of $33 million. The state and city would provide $23 million and $15 million in principal debt respectively. The terms of the borrowing are estimated to be between 4 and 5 percent for 30 years. Annual debt service payments are estimated to be $2.3 million, $1.5 million and $963,000 for the team, state and city respectively.

“This deal has greatly improved from the original proposal that was made last year, but I do see some room for improvement,” said Representative Johnston (D-Dist. 61). “I’m particularly gratified that the legislation that’s now before the House directs $250,000 of the ballpark naming rights revenue to the city of Pawtucket to assist with its annual debt service payment.”

“Not only is this investment revenue neutral, meaning it will pay for itself, but this will be an economic boon to downtown Pawtucket,” said Representative Barros (D-Dist. 59). “The legislation, which could even be made stronger, requires any future lease to provide a provision that the team develop a minimum of 50,000 square feet of real estate along with the building of the ballpark.”

“I think it’s a good deal because the team is paying the bulk of the cost and we’re able to achieve our goal of keeping the PawSox in Pawtucket,” said Representative Tobon. “My initial concerns with the deal, such as language that would have expanded the power of eminent domain, has been removed. Once we work to lower the risk to the taxpayers, this will be a good step forward for Pawtucket and Rhode Island.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903