In a letter sent Saturday, the Pawtucket Red Sox' new ownership requests a meeting with Governor Gina Raimondo "to consider various alternatives and explore ways to accomplish our mutual objective" of keeping the PawSox in Rhode Island with a Providence stadium, "including the possible purchase of the state land for the ballpark."
The PawSox request for $120 million in state lease payments over 30 years has sparked a generally negative public reaction, so the team's letter -- without mentioning the criticism -- is a tacit signal that the PawSox have gotten the message. The timing is striking since the letter came two days ahead of a scheduled Monday presentation to the 195 District Commission by PawSox president and Providence lawyer Jim Skeffington and Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, a managing partner of the PawSox.
The letter to Raimondo, written by Skeffington, calls for a meeting with the governor "at your earliest convenience" with Skeffington and Lucchino.
"As we have said publicly, we want to work with you, the leaders of the General Assembly, the Mayor and the City Council of Providence to find common ground and fashion a proposal that makes sense to all parties," Skeffington writes.
"At such a meeting, we shall endeavor to work with you to structure a plan that will be mutually satisfactory so that we can preserve this cherished asset for our State and at the same time provide a new state of the art ballpark for the benefit of our entire community," Skeffington continues.
Critics say the PawSox' requested $120 million in lease payments over 30 years amounts to an overly generous public line of credit for the team's envisioned $70 million ballpark on the Providence River near downtown.
Raimondo's chief of staff, Stephen Neuman, tells RIPR that the governor hopes to keep the PawSox in the state through "an alternative framework that is fair for Rhode Island."
The team's initial proposal was not fair, Neuman said, because the state would be putting up most of the money, while the PawSox would get the profits.
He said the administration will get in touch with the PawSox ownership this week about scheduling a meeting and that 195 District chairman Joseph Azrack, an experienced high-level real estate investor, will remain the administration's point person on the PawSox proposal.
Skeffington, in an argument he repeats in his letter to Raimondo, contends the ballpark will be an economic catalyst for Providence.
"Larry and I believe it is important to meet with you as soon as possible to explore some alternative ideas and hopefully we can reach accord on this exciting project for the State and City," Skeffington writes.
The ownership group that includes Skeffington and Lucchino bought the PawSox in February from the widow of former owner Ben Mondor. Mondor, who died in 2010, was revered for making McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket a source of quality baseball and family friendly entertainment.
The new ownership says keeping the team at McCoy isn't an option because of the age of the ballpark and the absence of nearby attractions.
This story has been updated.