Lucchino: Lawmakers to get PawSox bill next week

(Image provided by PawSox)

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino said Friday lawmakers will receive a draft of the formal bill to execute the team’s proposal for a new downtown stadium next week.

Pawtucket officials are writing the legislation now, he said, adding that there won’t be any surprises because it will mirror the $83-million proposal outlined at a news conference on Tuesday.

“We realize some of the mistakes we’ve made in the past and what we want to do is do something that has a public dimension to it,” Lucchino said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “This is more than a ballpark, this is about a downtown redevelopment project.”

The proposal has received a cold reception from House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who declined to throw his support behind the plan right away. Lucchino said he has not met with the speaker in “many, many months,” but said team representatives have worked with Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien’s office as well as Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and his aides.

The proposal – which includes $73 million to build the stadium and $10 million for the land where Apex is currently located – would be funded with $45 million from the team, $23 million from the state and $15 million from Pawtucket. Lucchino estimated the state’s bond payments would amount to roughly $1.2 million annually.

“The truth of the matter is the public funds will be more than returned back from the funds that are generated by the new ballpark, the additional tax revenues,” he said. “Whatever state revenues that are put into it to pay the roughly $1-million-a-year share by the state will be more than covered by the $2, three, four million dollars of state revenue that will come out and back to the state.”

The team has pledged to pay for any cost overruns in the construction of the stadium, but Lucchino acknowledged revenue from the ballpark and the team cannot be guaranteed.

“As to revenue generated, there are no guarantees involved in this, going in either direction,” Lucchino said. “The state is not guaranteeing us a certain level of revenue, we are not guaranteeing them a certain level of revenue.”

Asked what the team would do if the General Assembly refuses to take up the PawSox proposal this year, Lucchino declined to say, but noted the team’s current lease at McCoy Stadium runs through the 2020 baseball season.

“We hope to be in a new ballpark by [then],” he said, adding that he didn’t want to contemplate legislators failing to approve the proposal soon because “it’s such a fair deal and the private sector’s investment is so substantial, as opposed to other states.”

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