Premium Partners

Minor League Team Mulls Relocation Proposals has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)


Finally, a quiet day on the ballpark front.

Saturday, the Pawtucket Red Sox declined to elaborate on their statement of late Friday night regarding the stadium bill passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly; Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. declined to comment on the state of ballpark negotiations with the team; and no one in the International League offices could be reached for comment.

So, 51 weeks after the PawSox declared themselves to be free agents and began the process of investigating other cities as possible homes, Worcester being the primary alternative, where does the process stand?

Rhode Island has finally put an offer on the table, so the team now has both proposals to look at. It has had the Worcester one for a while, but since negotiations have been intentionally confidential, only the two sides really know what the numbers are.

Even International League President Randy Mobley, contacted last week, said he had yet to hear the parameters of the Worcester offer.

The Rhode Island bill passed late Friday night at first glance appears to be a very expensive one and is not an agreement to break ground on a new stadium, just a bill that establishes terms and allows the sides to possibly enter into an agreement.

The General Assembly adopted the House version and not the Senate version, the Senate bill having financing that was friendlier to the team. The bill that is going to Gov. Gina Raimondo's desk does not include state guarantees for the bonds, raising their costs.

During Friday night's Senate hearing, testimony revealed that the new bill could cost as much as $87 million more than the initial proposal, which was for an $83 million ballpark with the team contributing $45 million.

That is likely why the team released a statement in the aftermath of the vote that said, "We saw this proposed legislation for the first time only (Friday) morning, so it would be premature to comment further without having studied its terms and ramifications.

"We will continue to work with the City of Pawtucket to see if this new proposal is feasible, viable and permissible."

The key words in that statement are among the final four.

The special tax district set up to finance the borrowing may not be large enough to provide that kind of revenue and the cost of borrowing may be too high, making it not feasible.

If so, the International League — which has to approve any such deal because it is ultimately responsible if a team goes bankrupt — may not approve it, thus making it not permissible.

The Worcester proposal has been kept under wraps because neither side wants to be perceived as playing one side against the other. As such, Worcester has had an advantage because it knows what the Rhode Island numbers were.

Few details of the Worcester deal have leaked out but sources on both sides say that it is better for the team financially than the Rhode Island proposal. Even Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has conceded the financial high ground to Worcester, saying that the key to keeping the PawSox in his city is proving that there is more "value" in their long-established connections with Rhode Island.

Unlike Rhode Island, there are no more questions to answer in the Worcester deal and the state is providing substantial support. Any agreement will not require legislative approval, only a vote of the City Council that last year authorized Augustus to do what he had to do to attract the team.

The PawSox say they need time to review the bill passed Friday, but if their destination is Worcester, and the goal is to have a new ballpark ready for occupancy by 2021, then city negotiators would want a commitment from the PawSox so work can begin as quickly as possible.

The PawSox, meanwhile, may want to hold off so their 2018 attendance is not badly damaged. This time of the year is the prime attendance window for minor league baseball.

In a year's time, Rhode Island has managed to come up with a ballpark plan that is riskier and more expensive than the competition's, and riskier and more expensive than the original proposal.

Grebien has been the most vocal member of the stadium saga and after the bill was passed released a statement that said, in part, "The team has been willing partners with us every step of the way. Their commitment to Pawtucket and their fans has kept them here for over 40 years and we look forward to keeping them here for the next generation."

Friday's legislative action does not guarantee that, though, and it is telling that while debate was heating up in the Rhode Island State House on Thursday, PawSox executives including chairman Larry Lucchino were in Worcester talking to businesses about possible corporate support.

It has taken 51 weeks for both sides to come with dueling offers. Now, both sides are waiting for the Pawtucket Red Sox to take the final step and hoping they know soon.

Read More of Today's AB Headlines

Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter

June 24, 2018


Copyright © 2018 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show