Aponte plans ‘working group’ to explore public subsidies for PawSox

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – City Council President Luis Aponte said Monday he is planning to appoint a working group to study the type of public subsidies the city could offer the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox if they build a 10,000-seat stadium in downtown Providence.

Aponte said he is still working out details on the group with the city’s law department, but indicated he would like to move quickly so the city can “do our due diligence.” He said he’d like to appoint both state and local lawmakers as well as real estate professionals to the panel.

“We understand there are lots of hurdles to clear on the state level, but we want to be ready,” Aponte told WPRI.com.

An ownership group led by Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and Providence attorney James Skeffington announced last week it had purchased the PawSox – the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate – and planned to move the team to Providence. Skeffington said the group wants to build a stadium along the Providence River on land made vacant by the relocation of Route I-195.

Skeffington said the owners planned to build the ballpark with private funds, but indicated the group would seek free land and possibly a taxpayer-guaranteed lease from the state, during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. Skeffington also said the owners would need support from the city, but stopped short of offering details on the kind of agreement they may seek.

Aponte said he expects the team to seek a tax-stabilization agreement from the city, but he wants to have the working group decide what the city can afford to offer the new owners.

Aponte said the majority of the City Council appears to support the idea of bringing the team to Providence, but members have told him they “don’t want to give up the store” and they don’t want to enter a bidding war with a city in another state. MassLive.com reported Sunday that members of the Worcester City Council have expressed interest in bringing a baseball team to that city.

Separately, the Providence City Council will meet with Jan Brodie, the executive director of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, on Tuesday evening.

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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