PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The billionaire looking to breathe new life into McCoy Stadium tells 12 News he’s optimistic about his last-minute bid to salvage the beloved ballpark.
Real estate mogul Stefan Soloviev visited the former home of the Pawtucket Red Sox Thursday for a firsthand look at the stadium’s condition.
“I’m dead serious about it,” said Soloviev, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in the 1990s.
Soloviev, chairman of the Soloviev Group, first pitched his plan to purchase McCoy Stadium earlier this month. His goal is to fix up the ballpark and eventually bring in a new baseball team.
“My first choice would be a Single-A Red Sox affiliate, that would be great,” Soloviev said. “But an independent team, I think, would still do well here.”
The ballpark has sat vacant since 2019, when the PawSox rebranded and moved to Worcester.
But Soloviev’s proposal was initially met with resistance from Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, who made it clear that it was too late to save the stadium.
Grebien said the city has already begun preparing to demolish the facility and construct a new high school in its place, after voters approved a $330 million bond last fall.
While in a perfect world he’d love to see both proposals come to fruition, Grebien said he is “always going to put education first.”
“Right now, [saving McCoy] is off the table. We’re not moving,” he said, adding that Soloviev needs to submit an official proposal for the stadium. “I have to figure out our schools. I can’t walk away and won’t walk away from that.”
Grebien said once Soloviev submits his proposal, the city will review and consider it.
Soloviev told 12 News he’s offering to buy the stadium for its appraised value, plus an additional $1 million.
But fixing McCoy itself will come with its own price tag. Grebien estimates that it will cost $100 million to restore the stadium to its former glory.
That doesn’t scare Soloviev, however, who believes it will cost much less to make all of the necessary repairs.
In the meantime, he’s drumming up support from Rhode Islanders to save the beloved ballpark.
“I’m hopefully optimistic that I can pull this off,” he said. “It’s up to the people of Rhode Island at the end of the day, but on my end, I think I can take care of it.”
And one of those Rhode Islanders is related to the stadium’s namesake.
“It would be a tragedy to lose it,” Kate McCoy said. “We have to try and save it.”
Kate told 12 News she’s devastated at the thought of McCoy being torn down, adding that her family barely had any time to react the city’s decision.
“I don’t believe any of us have been outspoken because everything happened so quickly,” she said. “On the ballot, I didn’t see anything about demolishing McCoy Stadium, only that there was an education bond.”
The Rhode Island native grew up visiting the ballpark, which is named after her great uncle Thomas P. McCoy.
“You come here and you travel back in time slightly,” she said of the stadium. “I remember coming here with my little mitt thinking I would catch a baseball.”
Though she knows its a longshot, Kate said she’s holding onto the “small piece of hope” Soloviev has given her for McCoy’s future.
Kate Wilkinson contributed to this report.