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A revised approach for the proposed new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium that removes the risk to the state’s taxpayers will be considered by the House Finance Committee on Thursday, May 31, at the Rise of the House (approximately 5:30 p.m.), according to a press release issued on Tuesday by Larry Berman, Communications Director for the Office of the Speaker.
The original legislation (2018-H 7290 and 2018-H 7291) “was predicated on an underlying state backing but revisions developed at the urging of Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) would remove that backing and with it the taxpayer risk, if the deal does not pay for itself”, according to the release.
“I have been reluctant to move forward with prior versions of the deal because of the risk to the state’s taxpayers,” said Speaker Mattiello in the news release. “This alternative envisions segregating revenues generated in a new Tax Increment Financing District to ensure that revenues from the project will be directly tied to the debt payments, and the project will stand or fall on its own.”
The bonds issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to support the project will be paid back from revenues generated in the district including the team’s lease payment, according to the release. The state would contribute the same amount as it would have lost if the team moved out of state. But importantly, the state will not ultimately be responsible for these bonds if the deal doesn’t pay for itself.
The debt will be more expensive without the state’s backing, but that is the trade-off to remove taxpayer risk.
“This concept still needs to be put through its paces starting with a House Finance Committee hearing,” said Speaker Mattiello. “There will be plenty of opportunities for feedback.”