City Councilors Make Pitch for PawSox to Come to Worcester
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
The councilors encouraged City Manager Ed Augustus to work with the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Canal District and other organizations to try to put a package together to bring the PawSox to Worcester.
City Councilor Rosen told GoLocal, “I think that the PawSox should leave the tiny state of Rhode Island altogether. That team will be lucky if its move to Providence, New England's 3rd largest city, falls through. I think that our City Manager, Mayor, Council and crackerjack Economic Development team should make a pitch for the PawSox. If Boston can go after the Olympics, Worcester can go after this fine Triple A Red Sox affiliate.”
“The 'WorSox' could purchase, clean up and build a fine stadium on the spacious Wyman Gordon property near Kelly Square. That location also has excellent highway access. What a welcome neighbor the team would be to the up-and-coming Canal District. Worcester, New England's 2nd largest city, would be a much better home for the "WorSox." People from cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond would flock to our city on a frequent basis to see such high level and quality baseball," said Rosen.
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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