Cost to tear down McCoy not factored into new PawSox proposal

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – If approved, there will be another cost associated with building a new stadium in downtown Pawtucket to host the PawSox: tearing down McCoy Stadium.

The city of Pawtucket owns the land that 75-year-old McCoy is on, and officials have indicated there are no plans to keep the ballpark if the PawSox leave, whether by moving across town to the proposed Apex site or out of state.

Dylan Zelazo, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien’s chief of staff, said in an email they are looking at several potential uses for the land where McCoy sits, including the possibility of constructing a government center housing City Hall, public safety, public works and the school department.

“We looked at a number of options two years ago during the Providence issue,” Zelazo said, referring to the initial PawSox proposal to move to the capital. “The city of Pawtucket is currently reviewing a number of options for the reuse of the McCoy Stadium parcel if the new downtown stadium framework were to be accepted by the public, the governor, and the General Assembly.”

A study released in January put the price tag to tear down and rebuild McCoy at its current location at $78 million, but it’s unclear how much it would cost to raise the stadium alone. Zelazo said he believes the cost to do so would fall on the city.

Zelazo said Grebien’s goal would be to get property back on the tax roll, either by selling the McCoy site for commercial use, or through private acquisition of public buildings that would ultimately be relocated there.

He also said Grebien’s aides are exploring moving Tolman High School to the stadium location.

“The School Department’s Facilities Master Plan currently calls for the closure of Tolman High School and the relocation of a high school on the school site neighboring McCoy,” Zelazo said. “This would free up Tolman for private redevelopment on our riverfront. We will consider the McCoy site as part of that discussion as well.”

He said if the PawSox’s plan to move to the Apex site is approved by the legislature and the governor, they will ask the community for input on what should be done with the land at McCoy.

“If the downtown stadium framework passes muster, we have a real opportunity at the McCoy parcel to further grow our city and tax base,” he said.

On Monday, the team unveiled a plan to build “The Ballpark at Slater Mill” at the Apex site in downtown Pawtucket, abutting I-95. The team’s owners would pay for $45 million of the $83 million cost to acquire the land and build the stadium; they have asked the state to chip in $23 million and the city $15 million.

The team says the state’s investment would be repaid over approximately 30 years using revenue generated from the ballpark, including sales, property and hotel tax receipts. The Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency would float bonds to cover the taxpayer share, and the state would pay back the bonds for its portion over 30 years.

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