Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien wants Governor Gina Raimondo to commission a feasibility study examining the cost of modernizing McCoy Stadium, so the figure can be weighed against the Providence stadium concept backed by the ownership of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
In a letter dated to July 31 to Raimondo and other state officials, a copy of which was obtained by RIPR, Grebien argues the feasibility study is required by the lease agreement between the state, Pawtucket, and the Pa. He said the PawSox have remained unwilling to provide their own study reportedly identifying a roughly $65 million cost for overhauling McCoy.
"A feasibility study of McCoy Stadium which results in costs that nearly equal what a new stadium might cost would give further credence to Rhode Islanders as to the reasonableness of investing in a new stadium structure," Grebien writes in his letter to Raimondo. "Conversely, of course, improvement costs for McCoy Stadium which are substantially below the cost of a new stadium would likely make a new stadium plan less appealing to Rhode Islanders."
"Either way," Grebien continues, "all the facts should be known for everyone to judge before any decisions are made final."
Word of Grebien's letter comes as House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello told RIPR Monday that he hopes a deal for a new Providence stadium will emerge in a few weeks. Mattiello has pledged that any agreement will be subject to public hearings prior to a legislative vote.
The new ownership group that bought the PawSox in February intially asked for $120 million in lease payments, and an exemption on Providence property taxes, over 30 years. The proposal attracted a negative public reaction, and Raimondo responded by calling for a better deal for taxpayers.
PawSox ownership has maintained the team needs a new stadium, in a more heavily trafficked setting on the Providence River, to boost its attendance, and ownership has repeatedly said that staying at McCoy is not an option.
In his letter to Raimondo, Grebien writes that he expects to meet "very soon" with Larry Lucchino, a principal owner of the PawSox, who is expected to play a larger role in seeking a Providence stadium now that he is leaving his post as Boston Red Sox CEO later this year.
Grebien writes that the sub-lease governing the PawSox use of McCoy Stadium -- where they have played since the 1970s -- called for a "2013/2014 Full Feasibility Study covering all components of McCoy Stadium ..."
The Pawtucket mayor also noted how taxpayers paid $20 million for previous improvements to McCoy. "The substantial investment," he writes, "should not be merely thrown away. The future of McCoy must be a critical part of all of our conversations relative to the Pawtucket Red Sox as we move forward."
According to Grebien's letter, copies of it were sent to Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed; Lucchino; Rhode Island's four state general officers; Pawtucket's legislative delegation; state director of administration Michael DiBiase; Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor; and PawSox lobbyist Robert Goldberg, among others.