General Assembly OKs enabling legislation to allow public financing of ballpark for Pawtucket Red Sox
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly tonight passed enabling legislation that would allow public support for a new baseball stadium in downtown Pawtucket. The stadium would be the future home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
After more than 30 hours of deliberation and public input on this issue last fall and early this year, the Senate Finance Committee recommended passage of a bill that cleared the Senate in January. This evening the Senate passed a revised version of the legislation (2018-H 7290A) that allows the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark. The measure now moves to the governor’s office. The legislation takes a different approach from the Senate version, which, although costs are higher, mitigates risk to the taxpayers.
“While the House version of the bill takes a slightly different approach, it still addresses and reconciles all the issues that were a concern to the Senate after studying and deliberating about the issue for so long,” said Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Our goal was to pass legislation that is fair to all parties, and I truly believe we have come up with the best legislation possible. This legislation gives the city of Pawtucket the opportunity to pursue a ballpark partnership with the potential to anchor redevelopment in a downtown district at the northern gateway to our state.”
The construction would be financed by combined contributions from the Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Club as well as bonds to be issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency.
As the deal now stands, the $83 million project would be funded by 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 the difference from special revenue bonds. Revenues generated from the team and related development are projected to cover all costs associated with the project.
“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, now that we have further mitigated the risk to the taxpayers,” said Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket), who introduced the measure in the House. “The stadium will pay for itself from revenue from the team and the stadium’s visitors.”
Under the provisions of the legislation, the state would contribute State Economic Activity Taxes — existing tax revenues realized from activities at McCoy Stadium and tax revenue in the Ballpark District of the Downtown Pawtucket Redevelopment Area — to support bonds issued by the agency.
Pawtucket would contribute city Tax Increment Revenues — incremental real estate property taxes, special assessments on real property and betterment fees generated in and around the Downtown Pawtucket Redevelopment Area — and City Economic Activity Taxes — in order to support bonds of the agency.
As part of the project, the city is developing a plan that includes public uses of the ballpark and a mixed use real estate development in an adjacent area which may include retail, entertainment, restaurant, public park, civic space, hotel, office space and residential components as part of a larger redevelopment of downtown Pawtucket.
Under the agreement, the ballpark, which will operate and be utilized as a public park and will create public recreational, social, and communal benefits, would be owned by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency and leased to the ball club.
Also, advance ticket prices for children, senior citizens, and general admission would not increase from the cost of those tickets in the 2017 regular and post-season for a minimum period of five years from the opening of the ballpark.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903