PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello met with Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino last week to inform him he is not planning to call lawmakers back for a vote on the team’s proposed new stadium this year, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
Mattiello and Lucchino met Thursday for what some said was a tense exchange. Larry Berman, a spokesman for Mattiello, said the speaker’s message to the veteran baseball executive “was consistent with his public comments.”
“Right now, the speaker said that the House has no plans of returning in 2017 to consider the Pawtucket stadium proposal,” Berman told Eyewitness News. “The Senate has taken the lead in this issue and the House would consider anything that is passed and transmitted to the House.”
While not a surprise, the speaker’s reluctance to call a House vote on the ballpark will disappoint advocates of the plan, including Lucchino’s co-owners and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien. The $83-million proposal calls for $71 million in public borrowing, with $38 million covered by state and city taxpayers and the rest by the team.
However, it remains possible the Senate will vote on the ballpark before the end of this month. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio “is open to convening in November, pending the recommendation of the Senate Finance Committee,” spokesman Greg Pare said Wednesday.
Senate Finance recently wrapped up weeks of hearings on the ballpark plan and is now finalizing a report that will propose what to do next, Pare said. The panel is widely expected to recommend lawmakers approve the proposal. The committee’s chairman, Democratic Sen. William Conley, represents Pawtucket.
Pare said the committee’s report is nearly finished but still needs information from Auditor General Dennis Hoyle, who last week was tasked with conducting a confidential review of the team’s revenue and profit numbers. “We want him to conduct his due diligence and report back in whatever time frame he needs,” Pare said.
Separately this week, officials in Worcester confirmed they have hired outside consultants to assist their city with a competing bid for the minor-league team to move there.