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New Owners Don’t Rule Out Public Funding For New Providence PawSox Stadium

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


New Pawtucket Red Sox Principal Owner and President James Skeffington

The new ownership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox hasn’t ruled out using public financing to fund their proposed new stadium in downtown Providence, according to comments made by new principal owner and team president James Skeffington.

Skeffington outlined the new ownership group’s preferred plan for a new stadium on the waterfront in downtown Providence at a press conference on Monday afternoon. “We will design it ourselves, build with out own funds, and ask the city and state for support,” said Skeffington.

“We think this investment is a gamechanger for Providence and Rhode Island,” he continued. “There’s a better chance the 195 lands will be developed quicker and RI will benefit from it.”

When asked how much the team would be seeking in public funds, he replied that the group still wasn’t sure exactly how much the new stadium would cost, and therefore didn’t know how much public money they’d need. He did say that the team would possibly seek a leasing arrangement similar to the current deal with McCoy Stadium, where Pawtucket leases the stadium to the State of Rhode Island and the state in turn leases the stadium back to the team. 

While the stadium hasn’t been designed or priced yet, Skeffington did note that projects of similar size had cost in the region of $60-70 million.

The site that the PawSox ownership team is eyeing is partially open 195 land owned by the state and partially land owned by Brown University.

When asked if the team would seek a tax stabilization agreement with the city, Skeffington said that they “hadn’t focused on that yet,” but economic impact studies had begun.

“An investment on our part is a stimulant for the economy of Providence. People will get excited about this,” concluded Skeffington.


Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Elorza Has to Answer as Mayor



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Department staffing?

Economic Development. Chief of Staff. Policy Director. Who will Elorza place in these key posts? Will former opponent Brett Smiley play a role? Will Elorza keep on any key Taveras staffers?

There are multiple questions in this category, and Elorza should be making moves shortly as to what his administration will look like.  Will former opponent Michael Solomon be part of the team?  Look to see. 

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Budget deficit?

Opponent Buddy Cianci famously said during the campaign that if there was a budget surplus in the City of Providence, he'd drop out of the race.

Councilman Terry Hassett told GoLocal that a close watch on the budget would be necessary in the coming year, as a "deficit exists." So how will Elorza tackle the fiscal challenge?  He's talked about looking at city government department by department.  Where will he make cuts if necessary?  Or will Providence see taxes being raised?

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Police force?

The Providence Police Department recently graduated a new class of officers from its academy -- but council members to community leaders are pointing out the numbers are still below even minimum staffing levels.

Will Elorza look to push through a new academy when he takes office?And how will he handle issues surrounding the department -- which following the most recent graduation, was at the center of intense public scrutiny?

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Car Tax Changes?

Elorza said during the campaign that he wants to raise the car tax exemption from where it stands at $1,000 back to where it once was at $6,000.  

So how's he going to make this happen?  He teamed with Raimondo at the Olneyville press conference to pledge that if elected they would work in tandem make it possible.  Will Providence see more aid from the state to fill the tax revenue hole?  

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Tax Breaks?

Tax stabilization agreements (TSAs) between developers and the City of Providence came under close scrutiny in 2014, as a report from City Auditor Matt Clarkin showed that the city wasn't collecting nearly what it was owed on the properties that cut special tax deals with the city in the name of development and job creation.  

One council member -- Sabina Matos -- proposed putting a freeze on new TSAs until a full review was done, and a standardized process was put in place.  Will Elorza continue to use TSAs as a tool in the economic toolbox? 

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195 development?

The 195 land, while in the hands of the State -- and 195 Commission, rests squarely in Providence, and as such, its redevelopment will have a profound impact on the economic future of the city.  

How active will Elorza be in the process of courting businesses to put their stake in the ground and be part of the urban renewal process in Providence? Lots of work is already underway with the roads and infrastructure -- how soon will shovels be the ground for tenants?

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Nonprofit relations?

As part of his administration, Mayor Angel Taveras ushered through historic PILOT (payment-lieu-of-taxes) agreements with the city's nonprofits, in order to obtain some fiscal relief from the tax-exempt institutions at t time when the city desperately needed it.  

Will Mayor Elorza look to go back to the colleges, universities, and hospitals should the city find itself in difficult circumstances once again? 

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Elorza's jobs plan as proposed during the campaign included such components a supporting entrepreneurs, women, and minority-owned businesses, and promoting a mentoring program with the city's colleges and universities.  

One of Elorza's proposals included the doubling of Providence's exports over the next five years.  How is Elorza going to make this happen?  He mentioned used cars and design exports during debates on the campaign trail.  What policy moves will Elorza unveil to make this prophecy a reality?  And where will Providence see the jobs?

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School success?

Central to Elorza's education plan is the concept of community schools, so that the buildings are utilized long after the school day for increased learning and recreation opportunities for the surrounding neighborhoods.

Elorza has called for less emphasis on standardized learning, and has proposed an investment in technology in the classrooms.  Where will Elorza find the money to achieve these goals -- and will they translate into academic success?

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One Providence?

In the next two weeks, Elorza will be making staffing decisions that will set the tone for the new administration.  Elorza won overwhelmingly on the East Side -- will he cull his talent from the 02906, or will he reach out to leaders across the city to comprise an administration reflective of the entire city's population?  How will Elorza achieve the vision of "One Providence?"


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