PawSox Propose 30-Year Commitment To Pawtucket
A week after two potential new ballpark sites were analyzed by the management firm of Brailsford & Dunlavey, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the city announced a proposal for a new ballpark at the Slater's Mill site.
Under the terms of the agreement, which was presented at a press conference attended by, among others, PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino, vice chairman Mike Tamburro and Pawtucket mayor Donald Grebien, the team would pay $45 million of the new stadium's estimated $73 million cost. The stadium would open in 2020 and would trigger a 30-year lease extending through the 2050 season. The PawSox would pay nearly 62 percent of the ballpark's construction costs outright, and the rest would be paid for through revenues generated by the team once the stadium is up and running.
The city and the team both assure that no new taxes or increased tax rates. An additional $23 million of the funding would come from a "three-way partnership" among the team, city and state. Specifically, those monies would come from already existing taxes—sales, property and hotel residency.
“We have all reached agreement on a proposal to present,” Grebien said in a statement. “After collaborative discussions and extensive negotiations over the past several months between and among the city, the PawSox, and the Commerce Corporation, it is time to widen the circle and bring this proposal to the governor and the state legislature for their consideration and approvals. Without doubt, we are writing a new chapter in the history of Pawtucket.
“Virtually everything about this proposal is the opposite of where we were two years ago. Back then, the PawSox were all but gone. There were two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and we were down to our last breath of hope and faith. Now, we are on the verge of completing one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history—and it includes the largest private investment in our city’s history."
The proposed new ballpark, which is still only in the proposal stages and has to be approved the government of the city and state, would be part of a new downtown revitalization program. Much like the new stadiums in Charlotte, Columbia, S.C. and Hartford, Conn., the ballpark is expected to be a driver for new for commercial and residential activity in the surrounding areas.
Like Columbia's Spirit Communications Park and the upcoming stadium in Fayetteville, N.C., the new Pawutcket park will be designed for year-round use. That means in addition to PawSox games, the stadium would host high school sports, such as soccer and football, and would be open every day (sans the times immediately before and after and during ballgames) for public use in the same ways as a regular public park.
Like Boston's other affiliates, the ballpark at Slater's Mill would be made in the image of its iconic home stadium.
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The deal signals the end of Pawtucket’s long-running relationship with professional baseball, which dates back to the 1970s.
“From a baseball standpoint, it would have Fenway Park’s playing dimensions, high tech innovations, and the PawSox’ tradition of affordable pricing. And importantly, it will take the franchise from financial uncertainty to stable financial condition, and make the professional baseball business sustainable in Rhode Island for the long-term.”