Larry Lucchino's role in seeking a new Providence ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox "remains unchanged," a team spokeswoman said Saturday, even though Lucchino is winding down his impactful role as CEO of the Boston Red Sox.
"Larry's role remains unchanged with respect to the PawSox ownership group," Patti Doyle said via e-mail. "He remains focused on achieving a renegotiated agreement with the state on relocating the team to a new ballpark on lands within the I-195 District [area] in Providence."
Lucchino is the most bombastic among the trio of lead owners who bought the Red Sox from the old ownership for $700 million in 2001, more than twice the amount ever paid for an MLB team. The new ownership brought the Red Sox to new heights by delivering a World Series championship in 2004, ending an 86-year drought, not to mention subsequent championships in 2007 and 2013. Yet more recently, the Red Sox have been plagued by last-place teams and questionable long-term contracts for underperforming players.
Lucchino, 69, a baseball lifer, emerged as the chief advocate for a new PawSox ballpark after the unexpected death in May of Jim Skeffington, 73, a lawyer, longtime Providence deal-maker and baseball enthusiast. Lucchino, one of the lead members of the group that bought the PawSox earlier this year, held executive roles with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres before becoming part of the current Red Sox ownership.
The PawSox earlier this year initially asked for a state subsidy of $120 million over 30 years, and an exemption on Providence property taxes, to establish a new PawSox ballpark near downtown Providence. The request attracted broad public criticism as being excessive and led Governor Gina Raimondo to ask the PawSox to come back with a better offer.
Lucchino's plan to leave as Boston Red Sox CEO later this year was initially reported in the Boston media.
According to the Boston Herald, "The Red Sox have been exploring a succession plan from Lucchino for some time. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, the club finally decided the time was right for Lucchino's everyday responsibilities to come to an end. A key factor in the timing also was the club's desire to promote, and not lose, the next generation of leaders, topped by [Sam] Kennedy, in the Red Sox' executive branch.
"Lucchino, who will turn 70 years old next month, has been less visible over the past year, partly as a result of a serious motorcycle accident over the winter."
During a May interview with RI Public Radio, the man who once twitted the New York Yankees as "the evil empire," seemed considerably more subdued and a bit weary. As had Skeffington, he insisted a Providence ballpark could have a significant positive economic impact for Providence.
Talks between the PawSox and the state, led by I-195 Commission Chairman Joseph Azrack, an experienced real estate investor, are ongoing. The PawSox are also revamping their approach to selling the stadium proposal to the public, in part by leading a junket to visit a Triple A ballpark in Durham, North Carolina, on Wednesday.