August 17, 2018

Worcester expected to make PawSox announcement this afternoon

Photo | Grant Welker
The Pawtucket Red Sox are reportedly eyeing vacant land in this area of the Canal District for a new ballpark.

Worcester officials are planning an major announcement for 2 p.m. Friday at city hall, expected to relate to the Pawtucket Red Sox possibly moving to Worcester.

City officials have not confirmed the press conference is about the PawSox, but the Worcester Telegram & Gazette is reporting the announcement will be about the team and a possible stadium deal for the Canal District. The Providence Journal is reporting PawSox officials have informed Rhode Island officials they intend to negotiate a move to Worcester. Both the Telegram and Journal stories cite anonymous sources.

The city and PawSox have been in talks for nearly a year, with a vacant industrial site near Kelley Square serving as a possible new home for the team, which has called Pawtucket and McCoy Stadium its home since 1973.

PawSox officials including Chairman Larry Lucchino have been spotted in Worcester with increasing regularity, including a tour of the Canal District this month.

Officials for the team and both cities have been extremely tight-lipped about the status of negotiations, especially Worcester. Few details of any financing deal or the stadium's plans have leaked out, but anonymous news reports have indicated the Worcester deal is better than what was offered by Pawtucket and Rhode Island.

That proposal, which was signed by R.I. Gov. Gina Raimondo in July after more than a year of deliberation among Rhode Island and Pawtucket lawmakers and officials, has Rhode Island ponying up $23 million, Pawtucket putting up $15 million and the team putting in the remaining $45 million.

However, that bill didn't include a state guarantee. Instead, the Pawtucket project lives or dies on the success of the project and not the state's taxpayers. A special tax increment financing district for the ancillary developments around the proposed ballpark would pay for the project.

Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner in July released an analysis of what the project would actually cost, including debt service, and that came out to about $3.2 million annually at an estimated 5.7-percent interest without the state's good bond rating backing the project.

That's a total of $92 million over the 30-year life of the project and more than the construction itself.

That deal came after Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello refused to let a Senate-backed bill that included taxpayer protection hit the House floor last winter.


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