May 13, 2019
From the editor

WooSox mixed-use project is behind schedule

About five years ago when I was managing editor of WBJ's sister publication Hartford Business Journal, we ran a profile on one of the key principals behind the construction of the minor league baseball stadium for the Hartford Yard Goats. During the interview, the development official – for the first time – admitted the project was falling behind its 2016-opening schedule.

After a discussion with the HBJ editor, we decided to downplay the official's comments about the delay, since the article was supposed to be a profile on the developer. A year later, the city, team and developer were all bickering as the project had gone more than $10 million over budget and would not open until 2017. The mixed-use development surrounding the stadium, which was slated to help the city cover its stadium costs, has still yet to happen.

For this edition, News Editor Grant Welker scored an interview with Boston developer Denis Dowdle, who is building the $140-million mixed-use development surrounding the planned $101-million minor league baseball stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, set to open in 2021. Dowdle – whose responsibilities do not include the stadium – is a key figure in the project financing, as the taxes generated by his planned hotels, offices, apartments and retail are needed to cover the majority of the city's debt service for the stadium.

In the interview for Welker's story "Who is Denis Dowdle?" – which is a wonderful read about a low-key developer who made smart financial moves and happened to be swept into the city's ambitious plans – Dowdle said the city's timeline for the first phase of his development to open by Jan. 1, 2021 is probably not going to happen, with mid-2021 being more realistic. Welker and I spent a good deal of time talking about how to play these comments and decided to place them in the final third of the story. Because Dowdle has been a bit of a mystery man in the WooSox project, we wanted the article be more about his background and capabilities than writing a feature declaring "WooSox developer says mixed-use phase will not be completed on time."

Still, though, this is a $240-million superproject with a very tight timeline. Every development is different, and no one is saying the WooSox stadium won't open for the 2021 season; but in an industry where delays often lead to more delays, we should all pay attention to its progress.

- Brad Kane, editor


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