PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island Senate bill to provide public funding for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox will not make it through the House in its current form, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello indicated Monday.
“The Senate bill is dead in the state of the Rhode Island. Two-thirds of Rhode Islanders do not support it and therefore, the House will not support it,” Mattiello said during a taping of Dan Yorke State of Mind.
The bill approved last week by the Senate authorizes state and city taxpayers to cover $38 million of the estimated $83-million cost of a new ballpark for the AAA team. Supporters have insisted tax revenue in and around the stadium will more than cover the taxpayer share.
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Mattiello, D-Cranston, was a vocal supporter of the team’s plan to build a stadium in Providence back in 2015, but he has been much cooler on the more recent proposal to replace aging McCoy Stadium with a new ballpark on the old Apex site in downtown Pawtucket.
The speaker said he went door-to-door in his district to ask residents directly about how they felt about the proposal.
“Sometimes if you don’t ask, you really don’t know what your constituents are thinking,” he said. “I went out in the fall and I was surprised at how opposed people are to public financing [for the stadium].”
Mattiello last week held a caucus of House Democrats to discuss the deal. Those in attendance opposed putting a referendum on the November ballot – which wouldn’t be binding under the state constitution anyway – and the general consensus was to amend the Senate bill to shift more risk to the team’s owners, according to Mattiello.
“Come up with a deal that the public wants and communicate that to the public,” Mattiello added. “There’s got to be a lot of risk-shifting. The only side of the equation that bears any risk in this proposal is the taxpayers.”