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PawSox Pitch: House Finance Committee approves revised bill

(WJAR)

The House Finance Committee on Thursday night approved revised legislation to help pay for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island.

The measure passed 14-4.

The PawSox, who are the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, have said they will only stay if they get a new stadium. The team has agreed to spend more than $40 million for the venue, which would be owned by the city.

But the issue is paying back bonds for the city’s portion of the bill. Right now, the team has not expressed any opinion on the plan.

“We’ve said all along that we won’t comment until we see the final disposition of the bill. We still need to see what are the financial implications, and it’s really difficult to say anything until you see the final language,” Guy Dufault, a PawSox representative, said.

Now, the bill will have to be passed by the full House. Then, the Senate will have to pass from committee and on the floor on Friday afternoon.

“It seemed as though trying to get it done was not the right idea and hearing it tomorrow when everyone is fresh after everyone has a chance to read it overnight is probably a good idea,” said Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

Mattiello wants to finance the public contribution with so-called "special revenue bonds." Only tax revenue generated directly by the stadium and its surrounding area would go toward paying off the bonds.

If revenues fall short, the state wouldn't need to settle the debt. It's less risky but more expensive to finance bonds when they aren't guaranteed by the state.

A Senate-approved plan would have guaranteed $23 million in state money for the $83 million stadium.

But PawSox stadium supporters are starting to fear the worst -- the team just might leave Pawtucket for Worcester, which has also been wooing the team.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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