Councilman wants to lure PawSox to East Providence waterfront

A view from the East Providence waterfront of the Providence skyline. (Corey Welch/WPRI)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A city councilman is pitching an idea to bring the Pawtucket Red Sox to East Providence.

Democrat councilman Joseph Botelho, who represents Ward 3, is proposing the team build a new stadium on vacant land off of Veterans Memorial Parkway on the water. The swath of land adjacent to the East Bay Bike Path is owned by G&W Railroad, a company out of Connecticut, and features a view of the Providence skyline.

“Can you imagine sitting in a ballpark watching that sun fade over the right field wall while you’re watching the beautiful baseball game?” Botelho said in an interview with Eyewitness News. “That’s something money can’t buy.”

Botelho’s proposal would have to jump a lot of hurdles; he has not contacted the PawSox about the idea because he wants to get the property owners on board first. Mark Hastings, an executive with G&W Railroad, told Eyewitness News on Friday night the company is looking at all possibilities for what to do with the land, and is not committed to any one idea yet.

The PawSox struck a deal with the city of Pawtucket earlier this year to build a new ballpark downtown, but stopped pledging monogamy to the city after July 1, the deadline by which the team’s owners wanted state financing to come through. With State House leaders currently focused on a budget standoff, it’s unlikely the $23 million in state funding would come this year. (The city of Pawtucket pledged to contribute $15 million and the team’s owners would contribute $45 million.)

With the plan in limbo, other cities like Worcester have reportedly been in talks with the PawSox to host the new stadium.

Councilman Botelho’s proposal would presumably face the same roadblock in the General Assembly as the Pawtucket plan if the pitch requires state financing, but Botelho said he’d like to find a way to structure a deal without any cash from the state. He believes the waterfront location would be worth more to the team.

“I think if they look at our location and the incentives we would offer them, it would be a wash. We wouldn’t have to offer them any cash,” he said.

A spokesperson for the PawSox did not immediately have a comment on the proposal.