Downtown ballpark for PawSox debated at forum

A sizable crowd gathered in Providence on Aug. 25 for a forum about the PawSox stadium proposal. (photo: Ted Nesi/WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The ongoing debate over whether the Pawtucket Red Sox should build a new stadium in downtown Providence continued Tuesday as more than 200 supporters and opponents of the plan gathered inside a dueling pianos bar located less than a mile from the proposed ballpark.

The forum, hosted by Leadership Rhode Island and moderated by WPRI.com reporter Ted Nesi, included PawSox representatives Patti Doyle and Cyd McKenna, Jewelry District activist and stadium opponent Sharon Steele, and Ethan Kent, senior vice president of the New York-City based Project for Public Spaces.

Before the discussion began, Nesi asked for a show of hands from the crowd for where they stand on the stadium and the vast majority said they were opposed. Only a small number said they supported the plan or were neutral.

Doyle urged the crowd to wait until new revised deal comes out, suggesting it will be “revenue neutral.” She acknowledged the first deal unveiled earlier this year, which called for $120 million in taxpayer subsides, was too costly for Rhode Island taxpayers.

The proposed 10,000-seat, three-story ballpark would put home plate at the intersection of Dyer, Eddy and Ship streets on the old I-195 land. The team previously said it would seek a tax exemption from the city of Providence for 30 years.

Doyle said the team has not yet reached a deal with Brown University to buy land and a building owned by the university that would be needed to complete the stadium.

She also ruled out the possibility the PawSox could stay at McCoy Stadium or move to old Victory Plating land at the corner of Point Street and Allens Avenue.

Steele called on attendees to continue their opposition by contacting Gov. Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. She said the old I-195 land that the team wants should be turned into a public park, as currently called for.

Mattiello has started to back off the idea that the lawmakers could take up a deal for the new stadium during a special session this fall, but he has publicly expressed support for the downtown ballpark.

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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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