The Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday announced the findings of an economic impact study on two possible sites for a downtown ballpark in Pawtucket to replace McCoy Stadium. Those sites, in the Apex and Tidewater areas of Rhode Island, were each deemed by the Brailsford & Dunlavey architectural firm to have positive economic impacts on their respective communities.
“In B&D’s professional opinion, both the Apex and Tidewater sites will have a similar impact on ballpark and team operations (i.e. attendance levels),” the firm wrote in its report, “given their close proximity and therefore will generate similar economic and fiscal benefits to the state.
The PawSox have estimated that the cost of a new ballpark will be $76 million, and construction would begin in 2018 and would be completed in time for the 2020 season.
“The PawSox agree with the Brailsford & Dunlavey Economic Impact report that identified the Apex (Slater Mill) site as an extremely strong opportunity for real economic development for the City of Pawtucket, the team said in a statement. “We also see the potential for much spillover development–as evident by the recent creation of our Prospect Development Group–and the team is excited about sharing these opportunities with our business contacts throughout New England.
“This process continues to be a partnership between the City, State, Commerce, and the PawSox, and we remain committed to a new downtown ballpark in Pawtucket at the site that will do the most good for the City of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island.”
Bransford & Dunlavey estimate that the construction of a new ballpark would generate one-time benefits of $17.5 million over the projected two-year construction period and annual direct benefits of $12.7 million during the life of the ballpark. Their figures also estimate the creation of 438 one-time jobs and 481 jobs on a yearly basis, and $22.7 million of estimated economic activity when indirect benefits are factored. Over its 30-year life, the ballpark is estimated to generate nearly $60 million in taxes for both Pawtucket and Rhode Island.
To arrive at these figures, Bransford & Dunlavey used a model that assumed a paid first-year attendance of 597,000 and an actual, in-park attendance of 400,000. By comparison, Charlotte’s BB&T Ballpark drew 687, 715 in paid attendance in its first year. Four years into the life of the park, the firm estimates the new Pawtucket park would draw 569,000 in paid attendance and 389,000 in actual, in-park attendance.
The proposed ballpark would follow the downtown-style models as seen in Charlotte, Hartford and Columbia and proposed in Kannapolis, Fayetteville and Augusta. If approved in Apex, B&D expects a 125,000 square foot hotel, 200 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail space as well as an additional 40,000 square feet of office space, 70 condominium units and 10,000 square feet of retail space on an adjacent street. The total cost for that development would be $147.6 million.
At the Tidewater site, B&D estimates additional development of office and retail space costing just north of $51 million.
The total budgets, including the ballpark and additional development, for the Apex and Tidewater sites, respectively, are projected at $223.6 million and $127.4 million.
A new ballpark for the PawSox is not a certainty, and the city, according to the Providence Journal, is still considering refurbishing and updating McCoy Stadium at a price of $60 million.
Thunder Renovating Stadium
The Trenton Thunder have also begun updates to Arm & Hammer Stadium, the team announced in a release on Wednesday. Specifically, the team has begun removing and replacing old seats. This is the first renovation to the park since 2008-09, when bleacher seating down the first- and third-base lines were replaced with individual seats.
The seats will be removed and replaced during road trips, and the project is expected to be completed during the season.
“This major improvement to ARM & HAMMER Park is something that our fans will enjoy for generations to come,” said Thunder Team President Joe Finley. “I thank Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Mercer County for helping bring this vision to fruition and we thank our fans for their support of us over 23 years. We look forward to the new seating enhancing our family-friendly entertainment experience.”
After the season, luxury-level seats will be padded and all seats will be painted blue to match the team’s color scheme. Additionally, the team will alter the stadium capacity by 30 seats, from 6,150 to 6,120, during this process.