PawSox will start fielding stadium offers from cities outside RI

(Photo: WPRI)

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday gave new ammunition to fears that the team could leave the city if lawmakers are unable to reach a deal for a new ballpark, which remains stalled.

A spokesperson for the team released a statement to the news media saying that while negotiations with the city of Pawtucket and the state will continue, they’ll no longer be exclusive. Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien had previously said the team was only committed to exclusive talks with Rhode Island through July 1.

The spokesperson, Bill Wanless, said:

“For more than a year, the Pawtucket Red Sox have worked cooperatively and exclusively with the City of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island to find a long-term solution to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket. The club promised such exclusivity through the state’s regular legislative session ending in June. This understanding was clear and made public on numerous occasions.

“While the dialogue with Pawtucket and Rhode Island officials will continue through a fall session, if called, the club will now also respond to other cities who seek to present proposals for potential ballpark sites. Given the uncertainty we face upon the expiration of our lease, and the timetables involved with these sorts of projects, we believe it is prudent and fair to follow this course of action.”

The team has been seeking state aid to construct a new stadium in downtown Pawtucket after dropping an earlier plan for a Providence ballpark, but the proposal remains in limbo at the State House. House and Senate committees are slated to hold hearings on the plan this fall, but it’s still unclear if it will be brought up for a vote.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that there have been “back channel” communications between the PawSox and Worcester officials about potentially moving the minor-league franchise there.