Grebien staying committed to keeping PawSox in Pawtucket

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — As Worcester officials step up efforts to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to their city, the mayor of the team’s current home says he’s committed to keeping them around.

The Worcester City Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to approve a resolution allowing the city manager to ramp up negotiations with the PawSox. Last month, Worcester residents sent around 10,000 postcards to the minor league club, urging the ownership to consider moving to their city.

“In fairness, they’re doing what any community should be doing,” Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said.

Grebien said he understands why Worcester is making a pitch for the minor league club, adding that the team provides an economic boost and other benefits to the community. That’s why the mayor is once again calling on state lawmakers to act on his proposal to build the team a new ballpark in downtown Pawtucket.

The bill introduced in late June would green-light the construction of an $83-million stadium. The team would pay $45 million, with $33 million being paid through a 30-year lease agreement, while taxpayers would contribute the remaining $38 million: $23 million from the state and $15 million from the city, which would be paid back with tax revenue from the park and a surcharge on ticket sales.

Grebien said the amount of money being sought from taxpayers is far lower than he’s seen elsewhere in the country.

“I don’t think Worcester is going to be able to match that,” he said, “but we can’t take that for granted, and I need the General Assembly to do the right thing in September.”

Senate lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene for a special session on Sept. 19, but Senate spokesperson Greg Pare said the PawSox deal will not be on the docket.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a series of hearings on the bill in the fall, both at the State House and in communities around Rhode Island, according to Senate Finance Chairman William Conley.

Pare said the committee is in the process of determining when and where those hearings will be held.

“At the end of the day the ball is in their court, so to speak,”Grebien said. “And if they don’t take any action, we could be seriously in jeopardy to a Worcester or somewhere else that’s not even being talked about.”