Senate passes legislation to authorize public financing of ballpark for Pawtucket Red Sox

STATE HOUSE — The State Senate has passed legislation introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would provide public support for a new baseball stadium in downtown Pawtucket. The stadium would be the future home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

After months of deliberation and public input, the Senate Finance Committee recommended passage of legislation (2018-S-2001) that authorizes the state to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark. The Senate also passed a bill (2018-S-2002) that would permit redevelopment agencies to finance the construction of projects for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, institutional, public or other purposes contemplated by a redevelopment plan.

“This legislation, which was greatly revised from the form it originally took when proposed last year, responds to concerns raised during the committee process,” said Senator Conley. “It strengthens what was already a good deal for the city and the state, and provides a mutually beneficial path forward to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket.”

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.

The legislation passed by the Senate directs $250,000 of the ballpark naming rights revenue to the city of Pawtucket to assist with its annual debt service payment.

“After our exhaustive look at the proposal, I am convinced that the deal pays for itself,” said Senator Conley. “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.”

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.