- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Many lawmakers said they need to see a new proposal from the Pawtucket Red Sox before deciding whether to support a stadium in downtown Providence, and the team’s owners said Wednesday they’re working on a new approach.

At the Democrats’ closed-door caucus Wednesday, the stadium proposal was discussed but officials mostly focused on the budget.

“We’re waiting. Right now, we don’t have solid facts because the negotiations are ongoing,” said Rep. Joseph McNamara, a Warwick Democrat. “There’s not a proposal that is before us for debate or any decision.”

Rep. Edith Ajello, a Democrat who represents the east side of Providence, said it was a general discussion and she didn’t hear anything about the potential move that she didn’t already know. She said she doesn’t think the waterfront land is the right place for a stadium since plans call for it to be a park.

The PawSox owners originally asked for about $120 million in state subsidies over 30 years if they built a ballpark. They want to build it on former highway land along the Providence River that’s owned by the state.

That request got a lukewarm reception from elected leaders.

PawSox spokeswoman Patti Doyle said the owners are now looking for an “entirely different way” to structure the public-private partnership.

“We are all working diligently on exploring a different way to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island, so I don’t think it makes sense to continue to focus on the initial proposal,” Doyle said Wednesday.

She did not provide further details.

Rep. David Bennett of Warwick said the first proposal was “way out of whack” but he said he’s staying open-minded.

“I don’t see it happening unless they make something that’s good for the taxpayers of this state, give them a little security and make them feel a part of it instead of just saying, ‘We’re going to build this stadium and it’s going to cost you money.’ That’s not going to float right now,” he said.

A few lawmakers are still opposed to moving the PawSox out of Pawtucket, though the team’s new owners haven’t indicated staying in McCoy Stadium is an option.

“I really wish they could just stay in Pawtucket because I think it’s a great stadium, a great area. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people saying they don’t want to do a deal like that,” said Rep. Deborah Fellela of Johnston.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello recently hired Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist to evaluate the proposal for lawmakers. Zimbalist is also a consultant to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, which oversees some areas of the minor leagues.


Associated Press reporter Jennifer McDermott, in Providence, contributed to this report.

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