With Worcester calling, Raimondo urges lawmakers to act on PawSox bill

WORCESTER, Mass. (WPRI) — As discussions continue in Rhode Island over plans to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the team’s top brass on Friday paid a visit to a Massachusetts community hoping to woo the ball club there.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Worcester officials hosted PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino and other team leaders for a three-hour meeting at City Hall.

Lucchino declined to comment on the meeting, and Worcester officials have yet to make public any details about what the city is prepared to offer.

Eyewitness News on Monday caught up with Gov. Gina Raimondo at a HealthSource RI event and asked her whether she thought the team could be planning to leave the state.

“Not necessarily. But I think that, again, they’ve been waiting for months. This deal was on the table in May,” Raimondo said. “I think they’re just looking for other options, because they need some certainty.”

The Democratic governor called on Rhode Island lawmakers to get a deal done.

“I don’t know what they’re waiting for,” she added. “I think they should take action before it’s too late.”

The Senate Finance Committee earlier this month released amended legislation that asks the team to make financial and other additional commitments in exchange for up to $44 million in taxpayer financing for a new $83-million ballpark. PawSox leadership expressed concern about the changes but said they’re still looking over the bill.

On WPRI 12’s Newsmakers last week, Senate Finance Chairman William Conley said the plan is to introduce the revised bill the first week of January and quickly bring it to the floor for a vote. As for the House, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello remains noncommittal.

“The number-one thing is protect the taxpayers,” Raimondo said. “We’re not buying them a stadium. We are not buying those owners a stadium.”

“I understand it’s difficult politics, I do. But you have to put the interests of the people ahead of your own politics and do the right thing,” she continued. “If we let them go, 10 years from now we’ll regret it. If we do it now, we’ll revitalize Pawtucket, we’ll put people to work, and we’ll keep the PawSox where they belong.”

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday and is expected to say it’s “now or never” on the new ballpark.

Eyewitness News will continue to track this story as it develops. You can read more about the team’s future here and stay with Eyewitness News for Grebien’s comments on Tuesday.