Pawtucket mayor to lawmakers: Act now on new PawSox stadium

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien issued a call to action Tuesday, asking the Rhode Island General Assembly to act immediately to approve public funding for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium at Slater Mill.

During a noon news conference, Grebien warned that losing the PawSox to Worcester is a real possibility.

Worcester has expressed interest in bringing the team to the city and officials there have had several meetings with team leaders including PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino, most recently last week. But no details about what Worcester might offer the team have been released.

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.

Grebien’s plea comes a day after Gov. Gina Raimondo also urged state lawmakers to get a deal done.

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

While Senate President Dominick Ruggerio strong supports the stadium proposal and expects his chamber to approve it next month, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has remained skeptical about the proposal and is not committing to allowing a House vote on it.

In a statement Tuesday, Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell argued the latest Senate bill is worse than the original and urged lawmakers to reject it.

“The new PawSox owners made a huge mistake when they overpaid to acquire the team,” Bell said. “The PawSox owners think they can lobby State House politicians to build them a new stadium to bail them out of their mistake. State House politicians would be making a big mistake if they think they can vote for this new PawSox deal and get re-elected.”

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