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Mattiello Says PawSox Ballpark Likely to Not Be Discussed Until '16 Session

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House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says lawmakers are unlikely to consider a revised proposal for a Pawtucket Red Sox stadium in Providence until their...

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says lawmakers are unlikely to consider a revised proposal for a Pawtucket Red Sox stadium in Providence until their next regular session in January.

Mattiello pointed to concerns about the ownership of the intended ballpark site, part of which is owned by Brown University, as well as an ongoing review related to an elaborate storm-water runoff system underneath the site.

"Let’s get those issues resolved before we go forward," Mattiello said during a Statehouse interview Wednesday. "It’s more likely that that’s going to be an early next session issue that we deal with."

PawSox spokeswoman Patti Doyle said Tuesday that the team expects a renegotiated ballpark agreement to emerge "very soon."

"We have terms of a proposal that we're considering," Mattiello said. He said that when Governor Gina Raimondo returns next week from a vacation, "we're going to sit down, we're going to talk, and we're going to make plans on how we want to jointly and collaboratively move forward on it -- if we want to jointly and collaboratively move forward on it."

Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger said the state has not reached a resolution on the PawSox situation.

"As the governor has been saying, there are a lot of things that have to happen before a ballpark could move forward, including agreement from many stakeholders, approval from various regulators, and financial terms that are fair and that makes sense for Rhode Islanders," Aberger said. I-195 District Commission chairman Joseph Azrack "has been negotiating the financial terms, and while they've made progress, they have not reached resolution .... All of the various issues need further attention."

Mattiello declined to reveal the terms being considered by the state for a Providence stadium.

The PawSox' initial request for $120 million in subsidies over 30 years, and an exemption on Providence property taxes, attracted a mostly negative public reaction. Raimondo then called for the team to make a better offer. Her administration has been less enthusiastic than Mattiello in expressing support for the concept of a ballpark on part of the former I-195 land..

Mattiello repeated his vow to get public feedback before lawmakers consider a stadium proposal.

"I believe that with the terms that we're considering, the public would be interested in having the PawSox stay in the state of Rhode Island," he said. "If that in fact is the case, we'll move forward, and we'll move forward jointly and collaboratively."

In terms of a move by stadium opponents to try to get the Providence City Council to block a ballpark, Mattiello said, “I am not going to speculate what the City Council might do.”

By Wednesday evening, Sam Bell,  chairman of the ad hoc group Stop the Stadium Deal, charged, "The real reason Mattiello is starting to back down is because of massive public pressure. When we canvassed his district, I can't tell you how strong the response we got was. Like Rhode Islanders everywhere, Mattiello's constituents are mad about this deal, and they are furious about his role in pushing it. Not only that, many members of the House have been feeling the heat from the people."

Bell said stadium opponents plan to canvass Mattiello's district Saturday, and he praised state Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed for showing little interest in convening a special fall session, following the abrupt end to the legislative year in June. "When she stands with the people against the Mattiello machine, she wins," Bell said in an email.

Earlier, Mattiello said he wants to develop a consensus with Raimondo and Paiva Weed before disclosing new terms for a PawSox ballpark.

Meanwhile, the speaker said he is not yet ready to sign off on Raimondo's revised plan to use tolls on trucks to fix the state's troubled bridges, but hopes his concerns can be addressed in time to tackle the issue during a fall session.

Mattiello said the issue for him is the broader economy, not merely concerns raised by truckers.

"When we come up with a plan that serves everybody's needs, that serves the public need in an appropriate and safe and good infrastructure, that doesn't negatively impact the economy, we'll be ready to come forward," Mattiello said. "I can't commit to a time when we're going to come forward until I know that we in fact have a plan. If we don't have that plan ready to go, there's nothing to come back for."

This post has been updated.

Mattiello has been a key supporter for the concept of a Providence ballpark.
Mattiello has been a key supporter for the concept of a Providence ballpark.