The play to keep the PawSox while Worcester goes for the steal
State lawmakers gathered Tuesday to discuss a new plan that could keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island.
It comes amid speculation that Worcester is set to make an offer to get the minor league baseball team to move there.
“Worcester is really stepping up, and again, it’s hard,” Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said. “Right now, they have been at the table with us, partnering with us, and they understand how important it is for Pawtucket -- and they have to give us the tools to do our job.”
During an hour-long House Finance Committee hearing at the State House, Grebien said McCoy Stadium is the third largest tourist attraction in the city, which offers an affordable and fun option for lower and middle-class families. He said the athletes mentor students in the community and that’s not something they’re willing to lose.
Grebien also said the PawSox have an affinity with Pawtucket and he doesn’t want a bidding war.
Whatever Massachusetts and the City of Worcester are offering, they are keeping it as closely guarded as a third base coach's sign for a steal.
The city's desire for the team is no secret.
"I think one of the things that interested the PawSox from the outset was they got about ten thousand postcards in the last couple of years from people in the community," said Tim Murray for the Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce.
Reports are the city and state are offering tens of millions of dollars more to the team than Rhode Island would. Team officials have been to town numerous of times for discussions.
The site for the stadium would be next to the Wyman Gordan plant, and PawSox brass have walked the site, and people here would like a ballpark better than what’s here now.
"I think it’s awesome great development for Worcester. Up and coming we’re so proud of all the news developments," said Deborah Feingold of Worcester.
The ECHL team the Worcester Railers is in the top 12 in the country, and the Top 4 for corporate sponsorship and has developed a strong bond with the community. the Worcester Bravehearts, a collegiate league baseball team. They’re sixth in the country for collegiate league baseball.
Meanwhile, there wasn’t a vote Tuesday night. The discussion will continue at a later date.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello declined to speculate about whether it would pass before the session ends.
The Senate has already approved a plan that would contribute $23 million in state money to the $83 million ballpark.
But Mattiello has pronounced that plan dead. His framework would finance the state's contributions with "special revenue bonds." Only tax money generated directly by the stadium and its surrounding area would go toward paying off that debt.
Mattiello's deal is less risky -- the state won't be on the hook for the money if revenues fall short -- but it's also more expensive -- it costs more to finance bonds when they're not guaranteed by the state. Fiscal advisers have, so far, declined to provide an estimate on the added costs.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)