Owner: Bonds won’t be used to build PawSox stadium

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox says they have ruled out using taxpayer-backed bonds to build a new stadium in Providence, but may explore a leasing agreement with the state.

PawSox co-owner James Skeffington says the new owners are looking to build a stadium with private funds, but to get those funds from banks, they may need the state to lease the ballpark, which would provide a guaranteed stream of payments to the owners. The baseball team would then sublease the stadium from the state.

“It would be more like we are doing at McCoy [Stadium in Pawtucket] now, which is a lease agreement,” Skeffington said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “It’s helpful because it provides a security for the financing – we’d have our property and then we’d have a state lease for securing our debt.”

Skeffington – along with Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino and eight other investors – purchased the PawSox last week for an undisclosed amount of money. The Boston Globe, citing an anonymous source, reported the team sold for roughly $20 million.

The new owners are eyeing land freed up by the relocation of I-195, which is controlled by the state, to build a new ballpark for the team in downtown Providence. Skeffington said if everything falls into place, the team could break ground on the new stadium as early as December and open it in time for the start of the 2017 season.

Skeffington also revealed during the taping that he met with Gov. Gina Raimondo in December before she was inaugurated and before the sale was finalized to brief her on the deal.

“We had a very pleasant exchange that lasted less than 10 minutes,” Skeffington said. “She said, ‘Look, I don’t want to be the governor that lost the Pawtucket Red Sox to some other state’ … and I said, ‘I don’t want to be the owner that took the Pawtucket Red Sox out of Rhode Island either.'”

Along with Skeffington and Lucchino, the new ownership group includes former CVS CEO Tom Ryan; former Fleet CEO Terry Murray; TJX Companies Chairman Bernard Cammarata; William P. Egan, founder of Alta Communications and Marion Equity Partners; Habib Gorgi, managing director of Nautic Partners; Arthur E. Nichols and Frank Resnek, partners with the Boson Red Sox; and the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston team.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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