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Pawtucket Fights to Keep PawSox: Mayor Grebien’s Letter to Larry Lucchino

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

 

Mayor Donald Grebien

Just days after the passing of Pawtucket Red Sox owner James Skeffingon, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien wrote a letter to Boston Red Sox owner Larry Lucchino. 

In the letter, Grebien asks Lucchino about getting a copy of the feasibility study conducted on McCoy Stadium in order to "help gain a better understanding of what the true needs and costs associated with the stadium are." 

Grebien also talks about the fan base in Pawtucket and references Ben Mondor.

"Ben Mondor recognized and understood that. He helped foster that bond with the City and the State which is a big reason why he was so revered. I ask that you please be conscious of that sentiment as we move forward in our discussions."

Grebien hopes to meet with Larry Lucchino soon to discuss the future of the PawSox. 

Grebien's Letter in its Entirety: 

Dear Mr. Lucchino:

I would like to extend my personal sympathies and deepest condolences on the passing of your friend and business partner James Skeffington. His passing is a reminder to us all how fragile and precious life is and that every day is a gift. In my limited interactions with Mr. Skeffington, he was always professional, courteous and it was obvious that he had a passion for the game of baseball.

Mr. Skeffington’s passing comes at a difficult time, as he was at the forefront of discussions with the State of Rhode Island and its elected leaders as it pertained to the future location of the team. The City of Pawtucket, the PawSox and the new owners still have a working relationship together while PawSox games are being played in the ballpark at McCoy. It is still my hope that we are able to develop that relationship over the course of that time and discover ways that we may be able to partner with each other the baseball season rolls on. 

My administration had previously made several requests to meet and discuss aspects of the City of Pawtucket as it pertains to the future of the PawSox, as well as the commitment and obligations to the City and state at its current location of McCoy Stadium. In particular, I have asked for a copy of the feasibility study conducted on McCoy Stadium. I have seen through several media outlets that consultants hired by new ownership had determined the necessary renovations at McCoy Stadium to be at the $65 million dollar level. The reason for this request is not to question your figures, but rather, to serve the City and help gain a better understanding of what the true needs and costs associated with the stadium are. 

In the interest of transparency and as you try to rebuild a partnership with the State of Rhode Island, I believe that making the McCoy Stadium feasibility study available is critical to the vetting process of any potential agreement. The lawmakers who would have to vote on and approve such an agreement, along with the general public, deserve access to such vital information. In a previous letter, I had suggested that consideration be given to a special session of the General Assembly to be held this summer, to allow for a more thorough period of examination for a deal that would carry such important ramifications for the State of Rhode Island, the City of Pawtucket, and the PawSox organization. Taking our time to arrive at the best decision for all parties involved, should trump any hastiness or expediency to get a deal done. 

Rhode Island and the City of Pawtucket, have proudly carried the banner of Red Sox Nation for many years as the home of Boston’s AAA affiliate, the PawSox. The brand of the Red Sox is something that the people of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island strongly identify with. I cannot overstate the support and passion for the PawSox that is ingrained in the fabric and culture of its residents. The fan base here in Pawtucket, is second to none when it comes to supporting their team. Ben Mondor recognized and understood that. He helped foster that bond with the City and the State which is a big reason why he was so revered. I ask that you please be conscious of that sentiment as we move forward in our discussions. With that in mind, I look forward to hearing back from you on an appropriate time for us to meet and converse. Please feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely,

Donald R. Grebien

Mayor, City of Pawtucket

 

Related Slideshow: Leaders React to PawSox Owners’ Providence Stadium Proposal

The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox presented their vision for a new $85 million stadium in Providence -- including a lease agreement from the state that would require the owners be paid $4 million a year for the thirty year duration.

Now, elected officials and business leaders are weighing in on the initial proposal by the ownership group -- see below.  

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Gary Sasse

Former Rhode Island Director of Administration, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, and Founding Director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University

"A minor league ballpark may not be an economic game changer. Thus it's cost and benefits must evaluate environmental, cultural, social and economic factors. The key point is any stadium should be consistent with the overall strategic development of Providence. This story has not been told yet."

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Edward Mazze

University of Rhode Island Distinguished Professor of Business

"I would like to see the PawSox stay in Rhode Island. I do not think Rhode Islanders should pay for a new stadium for the next several decades or see Providence not collect taxes that could make it to a better city.....with better schools, lower property taxes and a lower automobile tax. To support the current proposal, there has to be tax payments to Providence, a financial deal with Pawtucket by the owners or the state to deal with the empty stadium and the owners paying for the new stadium with little in the way of state government assistance.

If there is state government financing assistance, there must be a guarantee that the team would not leave the state for the length of time of the financing. It would be interesting if the owners would consider selling "seat licenses" as a way of raising funds to build the stadium. This would be a real market test as to whether or not there is a need for a new stadium."

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Monique Chartier

Spokesperson, RI Taxpayers

"The Paw Sox owners have asked the City of Providence for a waiver of property taxes.  But the last thing that Providence needs is to remove yet another property from tax rolls.  City Council President Luis Aponte's request that state taxpayers make up lost property taxes is understandable but out of the question, especially in light of the state's own very serious budget deficits.

Governor Raimondo has correctly pointed out that the state has very limited resources to invest in economic growth.  These limited resources cannot go to develop prime public land into a very seasonal use that will have minimal impact on the economy at a substantial cost to local and state taxpayers.  Our state leaders must say no to this project and return to the vitally important work of helping ALL businesses, not just one, by improving the state's tax and regulatory climate.  We as a state can consider whether to participate in the luxury of a sports stadium as soon as our economy is healthy again."

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Pam Gencarella

Spokesperson, OSTPA

"If Skeffington and his very wealthy partners want the PawSox in Providence then they should put an offer on the table that covers all of the costs to make it happen. They must provide revenue to the state for the land that they want to develop, and property tax revenue on its full value to the capitol city."

Pictured: James Skeffington

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Mike Stenhouse

CEO, RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity

If the team is seeking taxpayer dollars, then taxpayers should get something in return, whether a share of equity or a slice of team revenues. For example, the federal government received equity for its investment in GM, while the Green Bay Packers are owned by citizen shareholders. It's not beyond possibility; let's find a way to make it happen."

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Terrence Hassett

Senior Deputy Majority Leader, Providence City Council

"I believe the stadium is beneficial to Providence and the state. The parking capacity must be resolved in favor of the stadiums' fans that is fair and reasonable. What events and other uses are not being presented which I find troublesome. A stadium is a great venue for families, colleagues and generally, baseball fans to enjoy. A $120 million commitment from state taxpayers is a large role asked of them wherein the return on the participation is not convincing to date."

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Aaron Regunberg

Rhode Island State Representative, (D-Dist 4, Providence)

"For me to support a deal, that $120 million figure needs to come down dramatically, and a strong community benefits agreement needs to be reached. I also think it would be reasonable - if the state is making a significant public investment in the project - to see the state receive a portion of the profits from the stadium."

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Laurie White

President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

"It is still in the early innings. The chamber was briefed on the proposal on Friday and we expect that it is subject to change. Conceptually, it is very exciting. Awaiting further details."

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Gina Raimondo

Rhode Island Governor

"The PawSox are an important institution in Rhode Island and our goal is to keep them in the state," said Raimondo. "The idea of a stadium in downtown Providence that can be used for multiple purposes is exciting. That said, my top priority is getting Rhode Islanders back to work, and we have very limited resources to invest in economic growth - especially in the face of a large structural deficit. I am committed to working with Mayor Elorza, the Speaker, and the Senate President to evaluate whether this project is in the best interest of Rhode Island, and whether we can afford it."

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Stefan Pryor

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary

"We hope and aim to keep this treasured team in Rhode Island. The project has the potential to enhance the vitality of a key district within our capital city. At the same time, this proposal involves a significant request for public resources. In collaboration with the City of Providence and the General Assembly, we will review this proposal in order to determine whether it makes financial sense and whether it will help catalyze the I-195 corridor." 

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Nicholas Mattiello

Rhode Island Speaker of the House of Representatives

"We have not received a written legislative proposal yet, but when we do, it will be thoroughly analyzed.  I will be talking to my House colleagues and I will gauge public opinion before making any assessment on the direction the state should move in."

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Teresa Paiva Weed

Rhode Island Senate President

"The proposal that has been presented by the new owners of the Paw Sox to build a professional ballpark in Providence potentially represents a significant investment in Rhode Island. The proposal will be fully analyzed by the full Senate in a thorough and transparent process.”

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Jorge Elorza

Mayor, City of Providence

“The prospect of keeping the Red Sox’ Triple A team in Rhode Island represents a significant and exciting development opportunity for our city and state. We have coordinated to develop guidelines that ensure a thorough analysis of the stadium proposal.  As Mayor, I am committed to continue working in close coordination with Governor Raimondo, Council President Aponte, our leaders in the General Assembly and the I-195 Commission as we move forward to make Providence and Rhode Island a better place to work, live and do business in the long term."

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Luis Aponte

Providence City Council President

“The stadium has the potential to be catalytic and transformative in the way residents and visitors experience Downtown Providence. With the promise of drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators annually to the city, the stadium could help spur development of the nearby I-195 parcels, and generate additional revenue for the city and the state. We are committed to working with the Governor, the General Assembly, and the developers to ensure the project aligns with our goals and vision for the city, and that it is a good investment of our resources.”

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Donald Grebien

Mayor of Pawtucket 

"Perhaps the state should consider buying the franchise and reinvest in Pawtucket. It would be more cost effective and the state would have ownership at the end of the deal," said Grebien Communications Officer Rico Vota.  "The Mayor has received many calls, emails and postings from fans throughout the state that do not support this current proposal. He is very careful to make sure that his decision is not solely based on the fact that he represents Pawtucket who would loose this valuable, historic ballpark. As someone who comes from the private sector, this deal only makes sense for the new business group and not the state of Rhode Island in its current structure."

 
 

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