September 26, 2018

R.I. voters back state in not offering more to PawSox

PHOTO/MATT WRIGHT
McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, where the Pawtucket Red Sox have played since 1973.

Just over half of Rhode Island voters said in a recent poll state officials were right to not offer more taxpayer support to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island.

The poll, conducted earlier this month for WPRI-12/Roger Williams University of 420 registered voters, found 51 percent of respondents backed state officials in letting the PawSox leave for Worcester. Another 38 percent said the state should have offered more. The remaining 11 percent weren't sure.

Worcester's offer to the PawSox, which was approved this month by the Worcester City Council, far surpassed what the team would have received to stay in its longtime home. Worcester will borrow $101 million to build the stadium, with the team pitching in $6 million upfront and another roughly $1 million a year for 30 years to play in the city-owned stadium.

The team will keep all revenue from naming rights — the park is slated to be called Polar Park, after Polar Beverages — along with revenue from concessions and advertising, including along a planned promenade outside the park's right field fence.

Worcester officials have said new revenue from more than $100 million in a mixed-use development across Madison Street from the ballpark would be more than enough to offset the city's expenditure for the park.

In Rhode Island, the team was offered $23 million in state funds, with Pawtucket putting up another $15 million and the team contributing the remaining $45 million.

In the WPRI-12/Roger Williams University poll, 47 percent of Democrats opposed offering the team more money, compared to 42 percent who said the state should have offered more. For Republicans, 47 percent said the state should have offered more, with 42 percent against. Gov. Gina Raimondo is a Democrat.

Among independents, 58 percent were opposed to offering more to keep the team, while 31 percent said the state should have done more.

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