NEW: Providence Foundation Endorses 195 Location for Stadium
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The not-for-profit said that in "recognizing that there needed to be detailed analysis of many factors" that it had conducted a study, and announced on Wednesday their three major findings. It should be noted that according to the Providence Foundations filings with the IRS, the recently deceased Jim Skeffington's law partner Duncan Johnson serves on the Executive Board of the Foundation as does Brown University executives. Brown has publicly stated that they would look to the new stadium to potentially play football games.
As part of the study, the Foundation focused on three areas including a review of other cities with recently rehabbed or new stadiums. The Foundation's analysis did not conduct its own financial review of those stadiums and it did not look at increases or declines in attendance relating to the other ball parks.
The ballparks reviewed were primarily facilities that were built or rehabbed since the 2008 recession.
READ THE STUDY HERE
In Section One, The Effects of a Downtown Stadium on Generating Real Estate and Economic Development, eight downtown ballparks were reviewed as well as the capacity for growth in the I-195 area.
The Foundation said that the main finding is that, in all cases, the downtown stadium facilities have been major factors in helping to generate real estate development, economic development and jobs of all types in the area around the stadium, and "documents the tremendous capacity for growth in the area."
In Section Two, the Foundation looked at parking, stating that the "projected demand for parking is 2,430 cars," and "because the demand is at night and weekends, most of downtown parking could be available for stadium patrons...with 20,000 parking spaces within an 11 minute walk of the stadium, well exceeding the demand."
In Section Three, the Foundation said that the stadium site, if properly planned, "can be a benefit to the downtown parks system. The preliminary plans have many positives such as 3 acres of park land; the extension of the all-important riverwalk and park/pedestrian connections from Dyer Street to the river."
Related Slideshow: The Ten Biggest Questions Facing the PawSox Coming to Providence
If the new ownership of the Pawtucket Red Sox want to build a new stadium in Providence, a number of questions need to be answered. The potential for a major contruction project in the state's capitial city touches upon a number of issues, from money, to politics, to jobs, and development.
What are the owners looking for from the state?
It's been one week since the new ownership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox was announced -- and their intention to look at Providence as a potential new location for the Red Sox AAA affiliate. How long this has been their plan is unclear but what is more certain is the new owners are considering the pursuit of some public funding to be on the table. What will they be seeking from the city and state, and how much? As the state still reels from the failed 38 Studios deal, look to see what might be proposed -- and how the public reacts.
How much is the city -- and state -- willing to give?
While the new ownership has indicated that Providence is tops on their list for a new location for the PawSox, there are other cities and towns that could vie for attention. "I said to Mr. Skeffington, if Pawtucket could pull it out, would they be interested, but he said basically if it's not Providence, it would be a broader catch area," said City Council President Louis Aponte, of his conversation with the new ownership. As the state and its capital city deliberate the best use of downtown real estate -- and the news 195 land -- how much will they be willing to make the new owners happy, especially if they starting pitting Providence against other locales?
What is the potential economic impact on Providence?
If Providence is the new home of the PawSox, it gets a ball club that has seen attendance at McCoy top 500,000 for 16 straight years -- only Louisville, Columbus, Buffalo, and Indianapolis have longer streaks. "Anytime you can draw in on average 7500 people for games, it brings brings value to the state," John Gibbons, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission, told GoLocal in January. "That type of business doesn't necessarily draw in hotel use, but I know those facilities nearby do well when the PawSox play, and I know they bring in tax dollars every night with the sales at the park." Jobs aside, watch to see who conducts economic impact studies -- and what that means in terms of any negotiations between owners and the city.
How many jobs will be retained?
Pawtucket's loss is Providence's gain, and the questions is does that go for jobs as well as economic impact. How many of the existing PawSox job holders will see an opportunity in Providence? Will the new ownership bring in new vendors, new office staff, new grounds crew? Will there be any downsizing in an attempt to streamline operations?
How many jobs will be created?
One of the bigger questions is will a new Sox stadium create any new jobs in a state that certainly needs them. Construction of a new stadium would no doubt provide short-term labor opportunities for the buildings and construction trades, but what about long term opportunities? The development of the 195 land is beginning to take shape after addressing infrastructure needs, and now the city and state are looking to capitalize on the potential to foster high job growth industries. Does a new baseball stadium fit that bill?
What will get built around it?
The potential location for a baseball stadium that is currently being discussed is the land just to the north of the South Street Landing project, the mixed-use multi-million dollar project will be a new home to a Rhode Island nursing education Center, Brown University offices and graduate student housing as well as a parking garage. There are multiple 195 parcels on the land west of the river. Will addition parking options be needed? The PawSox play approximately 70 home games a year. Who will step up as potential new neighbors?
How does it fit into 195 development?
Governor Gina Raimondo during her campaign called for the 195 land to be used as a manufacturing hub. “In order to rebuild our economy, we have to start making things in Rhode Island again,” said Raimondo during the campaign. “My strategy will be to take the good ideas coming out of our universities and colleges and turn them into products we manufacture here. We have a historic opportunity with this I-195 land and we have to get it right." There are over eighteen acres available for development -- and Raimondo shook up the 195 commission last month with her own set of appointees, who have yet to make any major moves - as of yet.
What level of transparency will be disclosed?
The announcement of the sale of the PawSox to its new ownership group was followed by a press conference led by new owner James Skeffington. While Skeffington offered ballpark figures for how much a new stadium might cost -- he cited $60-$70 million for other stadiums of its size -- what's unclear is how much the owners paid for the ball club. If the ownership (whose personal wealth combined totals over $1 billion) seeks public funding, how much will they be willing -- and required -- to disclose about personal financial interests?
Should Raimondo focus on larger issues?
Rhode Island's new Governor is entering her third month in office, set to introduce her first budget proposal in two weeks, and is facing tackling a projected $200 million budget deficit. Having recently announced a working group to overhaul Medicaid, following identification of the state's most pressing fiscal issues, can the Governor afford to spend time brokering a deal for a minor league sports stadium? Raimondo spoke of a state Innovation Institute being the cornerstone of her 195 vision -- will subsidizing a minor league ballpark be a focus of the administration?
How have other deals performed – Convention Center, Airport, 38 Studios, Produce Market, Providence Place?
Providence hasn't seen major capital projects since Waterplace Towers changed the city skyline following the completion of the Providence Place Mall and the new Convention Center. Since then, the failed 38 Studios deal has brought into scrutiny private companies being underwritten with moral obligation bonds -- and tax stabilization agreements in the city have similarly undergone scrutiny by the city council and taxpaying public. Will a look a past projects play a role in the development of a stadium?
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