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RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Endorses New PawSox Stadium at Slater Mill

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

 

Oscar Mejias

The Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a new public ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox at Slater Mill.

"We understand that a new stadium will accelerate high economic development, not just for Downtown Pawtucket, but also for the surrounding cities Central Falls, Lincoln, and Cumberland. An increase in the number of visitors will benefit the different businesses near the stadium and its vicinity, which we consider an advantage to our Latino business community located in the areas aforementioned,” said Oscar Mejias, Board President, Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino added, “the PawSox are grateful and proud to have the support of the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Pawtucket's ballpark project. The Ballpark at Slater Mill will provide opportunity and be a valuable civic asset for every Rhode Island community, and help to transform Pawtucket." 

It's projected by labor leaders that The Ballpark at Slater Mill will include between 12%-15% Hispanic labor, which will equate to more than 70 jobs for members of the Latin community. 

Other Ballpark Endorsements

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement follows endorsements by the East Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Newport Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council, Grow Smart Rhode Island, and the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.

The Pawtucket City Council endorsed the latest PawSox financing scheme on Tuesday night on a 6-2 vote.

 

Related Slideshow: Tough Questions Emerging for the PawSox Proposal

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Voter Approval

Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello raised the question if Rhode Island would be better suited asking voters to approve the question -- should Rhode Island take on the moral obligation of $81 million in bonds to finance the Pawtucket Red Sox?

Or as RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner questions -- an even higher price tag?

Now, GOP National Committeeman Steve Frias, who narrowly lost to Mattiello in the 2016 general election for House District 15, has been going door to door asking western Cranston voters to voice their opposition to the proposed legislation that would provide a financing scheme for the PawSox totaling $81 million.

Republican Frias went door-to-door with stadium opponent and progressive Democrat David Norton. Norton ran for the House of Representatives in 2016.

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Cost of Financing

RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is raising questions about the cost of the proposed structure now being considered before the legislature. He says the costs are being underestimated. He said the $71 million bond number is more like $84 million.

According to the structure, he says the project could potentially save money if the project was financed by the State of Rhode Island versus the Pawtucket Redevelopment Authority as the state has a better bond rating and a lower cost of borrowing.

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McCoy Stadium Costs

At the recent House Finance Committee hearing, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan and fellow House Republican Representative Antonio Giarrusso raised significant concerns about the cost of rehabbing, demolishing or reusing McCoy Stadium if the new stadium moved forward.

Pawtucket city officials seemed to be caught off guard by the line of questioning and could not answer where millions would come from to pay for any of the potential future usages or if the old stadium was demolished. The questions raised significant concerns about if the existing proposal is underestimated the total project cost. A previous study said that to restore McCoy stadium would be more than $35 million.

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Ongoing Maintenance Cost of New Stadium

One of the reasons PawSox officials cite for the need of a new stadium is the condition of McCoy Stadium and the lack of maintenance of the years by city and state officials.

But questions posed during the House Finance Committee hearing raised concerns that the ongoing maintenance and any significant improvement costs in the next 20 years is unsettled business again. 

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Moral Obligation for State to Repay the Bonds

If you thought the financing scheme that forced Rhode Island to pay-off the bonds for the 38 Studios guarantee loan bonds could never happen again in Rhode Island, guess again.

The legislation now pending before the Rhode Island legislature that would fund the $83 million for the privately owned Pawtucket Red Sox sports team has the same provision that forced the state of Rhode Island to pay-off the $75 million in bonds after Curt Schilling's 38 Studios went bankrupt.

Moral Obligation, Back Again

In May of 2014, right after now-Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello took office after the resignation of Gordon Fox, Mattiello and his Majority Leader John DeSimone traveled to New York City and met with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s — the two largest rating agencies. Mattiello and DeSimone were told if Rhode Island did not stand behind the state’s moral obligation it would be more expensive and more difficult to borrow in the future.

A day after Mattiello and DeSimone’s trip, they told the House Democratic Caucus that RI had to pay-off the bonds.

 
 

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