Grebien expects win for PawSox, city in special fall legislative session

Grebien expects win for PawSox, city in special fall legislative session

PAWTUCKET – Mayor Donald Grebien says he’s confident state leaders will do what it takes to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in their home city, but he’s acknowledging that he doesn’t expect it to happen until the fall.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman William Conley, of District 18, serving Pawtucket and East Providence, is now leading the effort to draft language that is acceptable to everyone, said Grebien. Protection for the state’s $23 million investment was already in the bill previously proposed, he said, but is now being firmed up to “make it even stronger.”

“My expectation is that sometime this week it will come out of senate finance with support of the governor,” he said.

Grebien is all but giving up hope of having the General Assembly approve a financing bill for the PawSox in the legislative session ending in a few weeks, especially with car tax reform at the top of the agenda for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

He said Senate President Dominick Ruggerio informed him that there simply isn’t enough time to vet the proposal before the end of the session, and that he’s planning a fall session to discuss the matter.

The goal now, said the mayor, is to have finalized language to the General Assembly before the end of the session, and he will then ask the PawSox to extend their pledge of “monogamy” to Pawtucket for a few months beyond a July 1 deadline.

Mattiello on Monday wasn’t ruling out a fall session, but is maintaining his stance that he won’t act unless Gov. Gina Raimondo approves the plan.

“Speaker Mattiello will not consider any PawSox legislation unless it is requested and supported by Gov. Raimondo,” said spokesman Larry Berman. “He has not been involved in the negotiations, which were handled by the Commerce Corporation, chaired by Gov. Raimondo. Any legislation must have her stamp of approval first.”

If leaders don’t act soon, said Grebien, Pawtucket and the state will suffer. The revitalization of the downtown is heavily dependent on this proposal happening, he said, and he fully expects the PawSox owners to look elsewhere if they can’t get assurances of financing help on a new stadium in Rhode Island.

“When everyone realizes how important this is to Pawtucket, I believe they’ll step up,” he said.

He added that the vocal support from mayors of the Blackstone Valley is also helping to turn the momentum in favor of securing a financing agreement.

Owners have maintained their silence as state leaders go back and forth on a possible financing plan that calls for the team to put $45 million toward a new stadium at the Apex Department Store site and the city of Pawtucket to put another $15 million into the project.

Grebien said he understands the need for state officials to have a certain “comfort level” with the proposal, especially in light of the continued impact of the failed 38 Studios deal.

The newest version of the bill will give the assurances everyone needs that Pawtucket will be able to handle its $900,000 debt service bill through new economic development revenue, said Grebien, and there are safeguards to ensure that the state will not have to pay if the revenue projections aren’t met.

Comments

Out of committee this week? Has the legislation even been introduced?

Fellow taxpayers, honestly, some of the comments made by the city administration border on absurd and demonstrate a concerning lack of understanding of the legislative process.

The fact is without major changes to the legislation as released, the project is at a standstill, plain and simple.

I'm still trying to figure out why all those city officials flocked to the PawSox press event to support legislation they never even read?

And so it goes...

There is ZERO support for this legislation at the state house. The mayor is grasping at straws.

Dont know if the mayor heard but there is this document being released this week called the budget. This is going to tie up the House pretty much til the end of session. Does he honestly believe anyone is going to draft anything, let alone having it vetted, the way it should be.