Raimondo tells NBC 10 she is 'a little surprised' by PawSox move

Gov. Gina Raimondo commented Friday morning on the potential move by the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Gov. Gina Raimondo addressed the media Friday on the upcoming move by the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, noting that she is “disappointed” in the decision.

“We gave this our all. It didn’t work out like we hoped it would,” Raimondo said, adding that she “was very forceful” when negotiating with team leaders. “But if I think we acted more swiftly, we could have avoided this.”

Raimondo also said that while she and her staffers had a deal planned, the General Assembly blew it.

“Because the legislature dragged their feet for over a year, it gave the PawSox an opportunity to look elsewhere,” she said. “They went to Worcester and as far as I can tell, the deal that Worcester and Massachusetts is offering the PawSox is much, much more generous than we were offering, and frankly, than Rhode Island could afford.”

But Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said the Senate did everything possible to pass “responsible legislation” to keep the PawSox in the Ocean State.

“The Senate Finance Committee was extremely diligent, holding over 30 hours of public hearings during an exceptionally open and transparent process,” Ruggerio announced on Twitter. “In recognition of the opportunity before us to revitalize downtown Pawtucket while preserving a Rhode Island institution, the Senate voted in the in the opening weeks of session this January to pass a responsible legislative plan.”

He continued, “The Senate legislation was fair to the team and beneficial to state and city taxpayers. I am certain that the team would have stayed in Pawtucket had the Senate bill passed into law. I am proud of my colleagues in the Senate for their work on the ballpark proposal.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello issued a statement on the move, as well, also noting that he’s not pleased.

“It is very unfortunate and extremely disappointing that the PawSox have decided to leave Rhode Island. The state’s proposal contained strong protections for the taxpayers and shifted the risk to the investors,” Mattiello said. “It was responsive to the concerns of the taxpayers who made it clear that they did not want to accept the risk contained within the original proposal. It is disheartening the PawSox did not show the same loyalty to the City of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island as the taxpayers and fans have shown to them for many decades.”

Ahead of the press conference, NBC 10’s Bill Rappleye spoke with the governor outside the Commerce Corporation.

“We’re a little surprised -- yes, I am surprised,” she said. “We knew they’d been talking to Worcester the whole time, but I’m surprised as to the timing.”

Going forward, Raimondo said her goal is to continue economic efforts in Pawtucket.

“I think that we should move aggressively to find alternative uses for McCoy,” she said, noting that she is working with Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebein to figure out what to do with the ballpark after the team leaves in 2021. “We’re committed to make sure it’s not an empty stadium.”

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