PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Red Sox kicked off their 2015 season Thursday at McCoy Stadium as state leaders read over a proposed plan to move the team to the capital city.
It’s hard to argue the proposed 10,000-seat stadium on the Providence River doesn’t look good based on architectural renderings, but it’s up to state lawmakers to determine if the deal looks good on paper.
On Wednesday, the new ownership led by local attorney Jim Skeffington laid out the details of the proposed plan and how much it would cost – $85 million. The money would be fronted by the owners in hopes of being paid back by the state in a lease-sublease deal.
They’re asking for $4 million a year from taxpayers to subsidize the ballpark.
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After the proposal was announced, it was met with immediate backlash from some lawmakers, including state Rep. Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown.
“Just yesterday when this hit the news, I got 14 calls within five minutes of this breaking from taxpayers. Not only in my district, from the entire state. From Pawtucket to Woonsocket to Westerly that are saying ‘Rep. Costa, we cannot do this,'” she said.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has not expressed her opinion about the proposed deal, but even before the team was purchased, she said she aims to keep the team in Rhode Island.
“I’d certainly like to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island, it’s an important part of Rhode Island culture,” she said. “Money is tight, so I look forward to getting into the details of the proposal and making sure we do the right thing.”
Skeffington, a lifelong Rhode Islander, also wants nothing more than to keep the Sox in-state, but admitted he’s been contacted by surrounding cities pursuing the team.
“We’ve had overtures from four other cities, and I tell them we only have plan A, which is to stay in Rhode Island. Our objective is to stay in Rhode Island,” said Skeffington. “Yes, there are other opportunities, but we’re going to do what we can to reach common accord with our citizens of Rhode Island and stay here.”
Skeffington said despite the hefty price tag on the new ballpark, he and his team aim to retain McCoy’s family-friendly ticket prices.
“We don’t expect to have any price differential. We’re trying to maintain the model that Ben Mondor established. He was a genius in this regard,” he said. “Minor league baseball is about affordable family fun. We want to continue that tradition. So we’re trying to bring to Providence a new ballpark at the same prices they have in Pawtucket, an opportunity to see our team and cheer us on, and hopefully win some more championships.”
The PawSox took home the Governors’ Cup last season, and began defending their title Thursday against the Rochester Red Wings.