PawSox Providence Stadium Proposal







Renderings of ‘Rhode Island Red Sox’ riverfront stadium on Providence – Baseball Rhode Island

Statement from the City:

Providence Announces Guidelines for Evaluating Red Sox Proposal

Leaders collaborate to develop framework to analyze impacts, weigh public benefit of proposed stadium

PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence today announced a framework to guide a collaborative, transparent review of today’s proposal to construct the Red Sox’ minor league baseball stadium in Providence.

The nine-point framework —collaboratively developed by Mayor Elorza and City Council President Luis A. Aponte with input from the Raimondo administration— will guide a process that analyzes the proposed stadium’s environmental, land-use and traffic impacts; considers the project’s ability to economically benefit the City and State; and assesses its anticipated return on public investment.

“The prospect of keeping the Red Sox’ Triple A team in Rhode Island represents a significant and exciting development opportunity for our city and state,” Mayor Elorza said. “We have coordinated to develop guidelines that ensure a thorough analysis of the stadium proposal. As Mayor, I am committed to continue working in close coordination with Governor Raimondo, Council President Aponte, our leaders in the General Assembly and the I-195 Commission as we move forward to make Providence and Rhode Island a better place to work, live and do business in the long term.”

The framework provides a path to comprehensively evaluate the stadium proposal, including federal, state and local regulations for the I-195 District, the project’s environmental and urban-design impacts and other infrastructure investments that a stadium might require.

“The stadium has the potential to be catalytic and transformative in the way residents and visitors experience Downtown Providence. With the promise of drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators annually to the city, the stadium could help spur development of the nearby I-195 parcels, and generate additional revenue for the city and the state,” said Council President Aponte. “We are committed to working with the Governor, the General Assembly, and the developers to ensure the project aligns with our goals and vision for the city, and that it is a good investment of our resources.”

“One of the most exciting prospects is connecting young people in our neighborhoods to the proposed stadium,” continued President Aponte. “Many may, for the first time, have the opportunity to watch minor league baseball players, and to see some of those players advance to the major league level, and that is inspirational. As well, the cultural events, and other proposed uses of the stadium, are a critical piece of the plan, so that the city gains a venue that will have broad appeal and community benefits.”

Mayor Elorza and Council President Aponte look forward to reading the written stadium proposal once it is received from the Red Sox franchise and working together in the coming weeks to begin the review process in conjunction with Governor Raimondo, the I-195 Commission, the General Assembly and other stakeholders.

Framework to Guide Review of AAA Red Sox Stadium Proposal

Use of Park Space – Review will ensure that a proposal to repurpose I- 195 land designated for public park space complies with federal requirements for the district.

Infrastructure Requirements – Review will evaluate the proposed project’s impact on both on-site and off-site infrastructure, including utility infrastructure, existing and new public transit requirements and anticipated street closures, taking into account both cost and timeline for implementation.

Environmental Impact – Review will analyze a project’s impact on the I-195 Master Environmental Permit and ensure compliance with storm-water and other environmental requirements of the Narragansett Bay Commission, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Urban Design and Integration – Review will consider the impact a project will have on surrounding commercial, residential and recreational uses. Sight lines, street-scape, water access, Riverwalk and CityWalk access are factors that will be reviewed to ensure the project makes Providence and Rhode Island better places in which to work, live and do business in the long term. The review will also consider conformance with Providence’s Zoning Ordinance, including building design standards.

Multi-use Feasibility – Careful consideration will be given to the flexibility and alternate usage opportunities of the proposed project. This includes the feasibility of hosting various athletic events, as well as recreational, retail, performance and community uses. The review will also take into consideration the potential impact of competition with existing venues in the City and surrounding area.

Public Impact – Review will weigh a proposal’s commitment to contribute to the community and seek to ensure that the project’s proposed uses will serve the community well. Demonstrated support from local institutions and community partners will be well regarded.

Traffic Impact – Review will analyze a project’s impact on overall and event-driven traffic including motor vehicle, alternative transit and pedestrian flow, as well as analyze increased demand for parking and its impact on existing nighttime parking facilities.

Economic Impact –Review will examine a project’s immediate impact on City and State revenues and expenses, as well as the long- and short-term economic impacts of the project on the I-195 District, the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island, including direct and indirect job creation.

Cost/Benefit Analysis – Review will consider a project’s capital costs and any request for direct and indirect public investments to ensure a secure and sustainable ratio of public/private investment on capital and operations.

And yes, there is opposition:
No new stadium for Providence

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116 Responses to PawSox Providence Stadium Proposal

  1. Tony Pelliccio April 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Great non existent deity – who the hell does the rendering on these. All you need is AutoDesktop and Photoshop to do a professional rendering.

  2. Liam April 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    I like the renders, I love the idea of the stadium downtown. I am fully in “NO WAY IN HELL” mode on the property tax breaks. If they need the tax breaks to make it work, then it isn’t a viable business. We need *MORE* property on the tax rolls, not less. I never bitch about my state or federal taxes, but my city property tax is just insane.I don’t want to subsidize any more.

  3. JCK April 15, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    I feel like I must be missing something. If the stadium costs $5M/year for the city to lease, and they get back $3M/year ($1M in sublease costs from the Sox and $2M in projected additional tax revenue), that still leaves a loss for the city of $2M. Why would any city agree to that?

    Unless that $2M can be made up (and more) through other means (additional rental revenue? — though that seems unlikely if 72 baseball games only brings in $1M (or ~$14k/use) — a cut of concession revenue? a cut of signage? something else?). That is to say, losing $2M year for the privilege of having a team play baseball in your city would obviously never be a smart investment, so there must be some way the team thinks the city would be able to make money on the deal, or at least break even, right? Why isn’t that being addressed at all?

    What am I missing?

  4. Boyd April 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    Bottom line: $120 million in direct subsidies + free land + complete property tax abatement in exchange for a $70 million stadium.

    That is one ballsy proposal. I’m surprised there isn’t more outrage.

  5. person April 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    If the state considers this proposal, then the state should also consider about $2 million/year for a signature park with an amphitheater and other amenities. What was the yearly cost going to be for that park?

    Which is more attractive to biotech companies – A stadium you can go to after work? Or a park you can have lunch in? And presumably there’d be events in the park.

  6. Jason April 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    I don’t see any reason to support the financing as proposed here.

    I don’t see any reason to give a property tax break– they want to be in Providence, they want the land. We don’t need to have a city-level subsidy to attract them here. State support with the idea of keeping them instate may be ok, but I don’t have any reason to think that the city should be forgoing revenue from a massive for-profit business just because they get to technically keep the land underneath it (they would get the land anyway as a park).

    This is not remotely creative enough and is far too expensive. Those dollars could do way more elsewhere. Example: Half of that cost could get 111 Westminster filled with people, while 1/4 is spend supporting 100 innovative startups with $100,000 of early seed stage funding, and another 1/4 gets both Olneyville and Pawtucket infill stations for the commuter rail.

    I like the way the stadium looks. I would be excited, as a Downcity resident to have it here. I’d love to walk to Brown football games and PawSox games there. This is too much money for RI. Let them go to Mass if this is the best offer they have.

  7. JCK April 15, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    There’s something disingenuous about Skeffington saying that they’re taking all the risk by privately financing the $85M cost of the project, but then only moving forward if the city agrees to a 30 year lease agreement that will net his group $120M… how is that even remotely taking any risk?

  8. Jason April 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    I should say that I would probably support a deal that costs roughly half of this one, structured right. That was sort of what I was suspecting. And of course, reserve the right to advocate in the reverse based on details, details details.

  9. Jason April 15, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    JCK– well they still have to pay to operate it. And it’s a cashflow thing as well. It’s not untrue that they’re taking on risk, but it’s also not fair to say it’s not publicly supported because they’re not riding on our bond process.

  10. That Flying Weasel April 15, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    “Attractive, iconic lighthouse.”
    Ah, yes. Because nothing is more attractive than a fake lighthouse.

  11. Mental757 April 15, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    I’m all for giving away any revenues that are not being collected now. I’m also for factoring in the costs to maintain a regular park but the end result needs to net out to zero, not -$2M! Neither the city nor state should come out of the deal in the hole.

    A ticket surcharge might be the way to go but thats a drop in the bucket towards 2 million a year.

    More info and detail is needed on what looks like a riverwalk extension and the potential for other uses and the added revenues those would bring in.

    This will be interesting to follow.

  12. Sam April 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Nothing left to follow.

    These are pretty pictures, and that ballpark would be one of the best in country, hands down, minor league or major league. But the team’s owners are asking for way too much here.

    I said I’d reserve final judgment until details came out. Here’s my judgment: let Worcester or some other city pay out the nose for the privilege.

  13. Sam April 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    I mean, if they had merely asked for the land, or maybe the land and a partial break on the tax dollars that the city of Providence is not currently collecting (although the state of Rhode Island is), that sort of thing might have been acceptable. This is an insult. This is, in fact, 38 Studios all over again — except in this case, there are even MORE rich guys, and RICHER guys than Curt Schilling, asking for an even BIGGER public subsidy. The balls on these fellas …

    It breaks my heart because I grew up going to watch the PawSox in Pawtucket, and I love them. But not that much. Not more than I love Rhode Island. And this makes zero sense for Providence and precious little for Rhode Island. Away with these assholes!

  14. Jef Nickerson April 15, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    I haven’t had nearly enough time to digest all this, but I can say this. That ‘light house’ is far worse than ten 38 Studios! Where’s the outrage about the ‘light house?’

  15. JCK April 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

    Jef, how else do you expect boats to avoid crashing into right field all the time?

  16. Mark Moreno April 16, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    I’d be totally fine with this project if the PawSox didn’t request state subsidies and if it wasn’t on parcel P4. I’d rather see the RI government invest in world class Public Transit, ped improvements, and bicycle infrastructure not only in Providence but in the rest of RI than subsidize a ballpark. There’s no excuse not to have Public Transit system that’s as good as the Public Transit systems in the great cities of Europe.

  17. person April 16, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    And let’s not forget: when the state wants to build a new Engineering or Chemistry building for URI (Each about the cost of this stadium), they need to ask the voters to approve the bond. However, this deal has us paying the same, getting none of the assets, and bypasses the voters.

  18. Gio April 16, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Looking at the pros here, away from the finances for a moment. Let’s face it, this is exactly what this city needs. A central outdoor entertainment/recreation node that can be reached by land or sea. Sure these renderings are always glorified to create a selling point, but I think its quite realistic to have the city look just as these images portray. Places to ride your kayaks or small boats to (which people in this city have been dying for), close connection to downtown and the east side via the pedestrian bridge. Stadiums pull in retail and restaurants and other businesses like a magnet. It would be all the pros of a ball game in Pawtucket…except 20 times better with much potential. How many cities like Providence have this opportunity? And no, this is totally different from 38 studios.

  19. Runaway Jim April 16, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    The light house is the worst part of this whole deal.

  20. Sam April 16, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Who cares about the damn lighthouse? I’m just afraid that any part of this deal might happen. Because it’s the PawSox, and they’re symbolic or some crap like that. Put the matter to a vote? Even worse: RI’ers are famous for never meeting a bond referendum they didn’t like. And again, it’s the precious PawSox! The vote would pass, but it would be a case of badly mistaken priorities.

    Gio, don’t let the pretty pictures fool you. Ballparks (or I should say, publicly funded ballparks) are not economic development. This is glitz. This is a glamour proposal, not smart investment in Rhode Island’s future.

  21. person April 16, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Gio, you can’t just ignore the finances. This is a massive amount of money that they’re trying to get without voters having a say. Their estimates are also a little too rosy. $5 million to move the gas main? yeah right. And they’re certainly not including the cost to businesses that lose gas while construction is happening. In the immortal words of Don Carceri, “there’s only risk if everything goes wrong.” In those respects, it’s similar to 38 studios.

    We could have a “central outdoor entertainment/recreation node” without the stadium. Make a nice park with an amphitheater and amenities (like millenium park). That’s much cheaper than a stadium.

    Again, voter approval is needed to invest in common-sense things like education. But these fat cats are trying to grab money for a *stadium* without voter approval. It’s outrageous. If they want it so bad, they should wait until 2016 when we have a say.

  22. person April 16, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    Actually, nevermind about 2016. They missed the boat. Build the damn park and bridge already.

  23. Dan April 16, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    I was willing to give them a shot but this deal is just a little too rich for me. 2 million a year, (if you believe Skeffington’s projections) is more than I think we should spend. I know its simple math, but the Pawsox ownership is getting a 40% ROI. 120 – 85 = 35 million return for the 85 million spent. I know its over 30 years, but still. And whats to stop them from coming back in 10-15 years and make demands that this “tired old ballpark” needs upgrades to keep them from moving. I think we have to have a deal that is closer to, if not, revenue neutral.

    Start with the lease. I would tie it to the actual cost of the construction + a fixed agreed upon ROI for the owners. Maybe higher lease payments in the first 10 years, then decreasing payments as the stadium ages.

    Then I would take a page out of baseball contracts and start looking at “bonuses” based on performance; average yearly attendance, number of sell outs, number of non-baseball bookings. Bonus money for home playoff games. How about meeting certain revenue projections. They can isolate spending at the mall they should be able to do it at the stadium. Have local hotels ask and keep track of ball “game related stays”.

    No, to no city taxes for 30 years unless there is an agreed upon way to compensate and make the city whole.

    Then I would add in some Quality of life items. Free use of the park by the City and the state for a certain number of events per year. Provide accessible street or river level space for use by the city to hold art and cultural events.

    And finally. No lighthouse! Unless they want to make me lighthouse keeper. I think it would be a cool place to live.

  24. Andrew I April 16, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    The lighthouse did not just ring the bogosity bell, it cracked it.

    We are watching ourselves get expertly rolled according the the well worn so-you-wanna-keep-your-beloved-team script. I feel helpless.

    See you at the game!

  25. JCK April 16, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    @Dan: “Free use of the park by the City and the state for a certain number of events per year. ”

    I’d assume that’s a given in the current deal terms (at least for the state) since the state would be leasing the park and then subleasing back to the owner for 72 games per year.

  26. David Rocha April 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    I wrote a little bit about the proposal for WBOB, but to some it up, I actually don’t think this is a bad initial offer to negotiate with. When you factor in subleases, sales taxes, income taxes, and inflation, the state actually makes out. It’s the city that needs more out of this deal. Perhaps a reduced property tax rate, rather than no property taxes?
    Also, it’s hard to make out from these renderings, but is there ANY retail incorporated in this?–politics/downtown-stadium-can-be-an-asset-not-a-liability

  27. JCK April 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    @David Rocha: “we should establish that the original goal of this land was never to generate income for the city nor the state in any direct fashion, and would have had to have been maintained by taxpayer money.”

    That’s a good point. I hadn’t factored the cost of park maintenance into my thinking about this. You can’t just weigh the public benefit of park vs. stadium in a vacuum.

    @Everyone comparing this to 38 Studio. That’s not really a fair comparison. This might still be a bad deal (I’m skeptical, but I haven’t made up my mind personally), but it’s (a) not the same type of investment as 38 Studios, and (b) not the same type of business. The Red Sox are an established AAA franchise who have a track record over many years of being a moderate draw in this area (average 7300 attendance last year: ) … 38 Studios was a highly risky investment in a company that had not had a ton of success and was led by a rookie entrepreneur with no track record. Games are a hit driven business and $75M is only about half the necessary cost of the caliber game 38 Studios was trying to build.

    TL;DR: 38 Studios was a bad deal in large part because it was a super high risk investment. The risk of the Sox turning into a failure as a business is pretty minimal, especially given that the new ownership group includes Larry Lucchino, who knows a thing or two about running a baseball team… (at least, he knows a lot more about running a baseball team than Curt Schilling knows about running a video game company…)

  28. Andy April 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Agreed. The lighthouse is the worst thing about this plan.

    Infrastructure! Place-Making! Jobs. Jobs. Jobs!

  29. Aaron April 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    I think David Rocha makes a mostly fair argument that there are potential perks to this deal, even exactly as stated. First, as has been stated, the land is currently slated for park construction, which is a (modest) annual revenue drain on top of construction costs. Second, the current agreement allows the owners to entirely fund the stadium’s construction up front. After that, the state will effectively purchase the lease at an annual net rate of $4 million. This is important, because it affords the state total control over the calendar of events that take place at the stadium whenever there is no baseball game. This means that (a) local teams can play at their leisure without stadium ownership approval, and (b) the state is incentivized to fill the seats during peak outdoor event season with things like concerts, with the revenue returning to the taxpayers rather than the stadium owners. Whether $4 million is the right number or not I don’t know and wouldn’t know how to determine, but the spirit of the arrangement does make some sense, if the state were able to capitalize on it as discussed above.

  30. KCB April 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    First, this group on the forum is great. Awesome dialogue on the subject.

    From the beginning, I wanted to see better use of the waterfront. This just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry. I see boats, but no real boating infrastructure, like a micro marina with slips for small watercraft with ramps to the RiverWalk “boardwalk” near the East Plaza. I see no ferry shuttling people in from other locations on the Upper Bay (or Seekonk River). No “pagoda” style riverfront small platform feature to promote small music events in the public space. The public space is just lame. Why not just make it open space with a (Chicago) Navy Pier style beer garden space with consistently scheduled music acts performing 8 months of the year… maybe even a food hall (which are really the foodie idea du jour right now). There should be a community boating center co-located at this project that can partner with the India Point and Seekonk River locations, and the countless marinas on the Upper Bay to offer lessons, tours, services, etc. These features’ revenue should be put into a “gap” fund to find middle ground with regards to property taxes.

    What happens to all the land behind the garage? Does Brown own this? This land is critical to the whole project. It should include something that is 12 months a year usage, just like the remainder of the properties around the stadium. We don’t want a ghost town around the stadium during the 4 off months.

    Cold month usage is super important and I haven’t heard any real viable usages besides football games (which aren’t during the real cold months, for most of us hearty RIers). I want to see a lifetime free contract to have First Night there for the City, I want to hear about Big East hockey games outdoors (Providence just won the NCAA National Championship!), sign a contract with them for 20-30 years of one game a month outside during the winter months. An ice rink here, along with downtown, and at the Dunk creates a potential host city for skating/ice hockey/curling related conferences and events, but at the very basic…let’s lock up usage in the form of long-term contracts with local institutions before we build. Maybe a Providence Winter Carnival during the depths of winter with Ice Bars, heated tents with exhibitions and entertainment, etc. — let’s just hear some ideas, and plans to steer more revenue to the City to pay for the property taxes.

    Lastly, $1 per ticket “City” Fee is exactly what these guys want… don’t let them fool you. They can raise $1,250,000 this way, easy. They just don’t want to ask “the people” for it — they want the politicians to negotiate it on behalf of the people. Everyone comes out a winner, except the people, per usual. They can get a buck on the ticket, buck on the parking, 1% on the food & beverage… problem regarding property taxes solved. It’s a typical defeatist Rhode Island “I hate change” attitude to think that the delivery of this proposal is a deal breaker before the negotiations even begin. We have to fight for the deal we want, and it MUST INCLUDE PROPERTY TAXES in some form. We need to share in the prosperity of our City.

  31. JCK April 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    @Aaron: My worry is that if 71 baseball games nets $1M, you’re talking about a per event rental rate of around $14,000. You’d need 284 events at that rate to make up $4M (or 142 to make up the $2M, assuming the tax benefit is right). It’s feasible that a concert rate might be higher (and presumably, the state would take all or a large percentage of concessions receipts for non-Sox usage of the stadium?), so maybe making up that money isn’t so far-fetched. But you’re running out of warm weather days (there’s very little you can do with this stadium between, say, November and April — outdoor hockey is cool, but probably would only be a handful of games per year). I’d assume the rental rate for low-attendance draws like Brown and URI football, hockey and college baseball would be lower, too.

    (I also assume that $2M tax revenue number was just for the 71 baseball games, and didn’t include other uses of the stadium throughout the year? It wasn’t clear to me.)

    I feel like there needs to be a lot more due diligence done here and projections about what sort of revenue these sorts of uses can legitimately bring in before deciding if that $4M number is a good deal.

  32. Jef Nickerson April 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    I added a link to David’s story to the original post. I’ve also added a link to the ‘PawSox’ archive to the top navigation menu, there’s three posts in the archive now, but I imagine there will be more to come.

  33. KCB April 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    Kudos to the folk providing back of the envelope calculations, it’s good to see how my expectations measure against the rest of you.

    I’d imagine a venue fee for a minor league game is greater than $1.40 per guest (assuming $14,000 per game), and I would assume that a concert venue fee would be multiple times greater. The margins on a lower attendance game may actually exceed a normal non-sell out regular season midweek ball game, considering its fully staffed, has utility costs like stadium lights, and public service details costs (fire & police). A $20 college football ticket may carry a per guest venue fee that is 3 to 4 times higher since there are only skeleton costs and those are typically day events. Either way, $14,000 is too low. Assume that 2,000 seats carry an average cost of $15 (including corporate boxes… this is a low ball), and 8,000 seats carry an average cost of $11. This is $118,000 per game, and $14,000 is only 11.8% of that revenue. All concessions pay for the entire labor of the ballpark and all cost of goods sold (typically less than 20% for concession food and another 20% for labor; lower quality product at inflated prices), so they make a gross profit of 60% of every dollar at the concession stand, plus $104,000 of ticket sales minus overhead.

    These are huge numbers. They can afford property taxes, and they can afford paying a venue fee higher than $14,000.

  34. Ethan April 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    I’ve had my doubts about all this, but the terms hadn’t crystallized. Now that an actual financial proposal is out, we should want zero part of this deal as Providence residents. I love the Sox, and have always enjoyed watching minor league baseball. But this proposal is out of hand. If you want a partial tax abatement for a few years, with private funds being used for land purchase and construction, I could be convinced. But *30 years* tax-free is ridiculous. If we recoup no tax revenue locally for a generation, I’d rather see the land become the public riverside park it was intended to be. Bring the park to Worcester or Foxboro and let them empty their pockets for it. I hope city and state leaders have some negotiating spine and are willing to give a tough counter-offer Skeffington/Luccino, et al, *and* be very ready to walk away.

  35. David Rocha April 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    How hard am I gonna get hated on if I say I like the lighthouse?

  36. Tim April 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    Totally ill-equipped to comment on the financing and terms of the deal but I agree with David Rocha – let’s stop hating on the lighthouse! Yes it’s kitschy but its fun and it is just one proposal idea. Providence is a city of many picturesque landmarks and we don’t need to dismiss this. It may not be “functional” but it could be a good place maker and wayfinder for the city. Let’s remember to discuss the rest of the proposal. We need more information on programming other than the stadium (ground floor retail …etc) but I must say I think it seems like a reasonable building proposal for its context.

  37. Peter Friedrichs April 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    Hard. The lighthouse is stupid. Gillette stadium has one already. How about a giant anchor or something in the south entry plaza? And if the team is no longer going to be the PawSox, can we agree that Rhode Island Red Sox is not ideal? How about the Rhode Island Red Topsiders or something (OK, something better than that…)?

  38. Sam April 16, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Not really about the building. Can’t believe I have to repeat that.

    “@Everyone comparing this to 38 Studio. That’s not really a fair comparison. This might still be a bad deal (I’m skeptical, but I haven’t made up my mind personally), but it’s (a) not the same type of investment as 38 Studios, and (b) not the same type of business. The Red Sox are an established AAA franchise who have a track record over many years of being a moderate draw …”

    Thank you for stating the obvious. Of course not the same type of business, of course not the same type of investment. Actually, thank you for making my point for me. Because, although 38 Studios was an investment in a very high-risk industry, there was at least a chance that they would be a huge unforeseen success, recoup the state’s money and then some, and establish cachet for Providence as a tech city. But repeatedly, repeatedly! studies have shown that huge public investments in stadium/sport facililities are AT BEST a wash for the communities — and are far more likely to be a losing proposition.

    I don’t play the lottery. I’m not a rich man, and I don’t feel like I have extra money to throw away. But I can appreciate why others play: you can’t win if you don’t play, as they say. 38 Studios was a lottery-like gamble, but at least the ticket price came with the potential for a big payoff. Who would play a lottery with a best-case break-even payoff?! But that’s exactly what these uber-rich bastards are asking Providence and RI (which, to complete the analogy, are like me, not rich) to do.

    Admit it. Anybody who cares enough about this issue to read this discussion could easily produce a laundry list of items each of which would represent a better use of this (not piddling amount of) money in terms of the long-term economic health of the city and state. The one and only reason to consider this proposal seriously is that you have a bit of stardust in your eyes.

    It’s a sexy bunch of renderings, I’ll give it that.

  39. mothra April 16, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    My first response is that I like the idea of the light house, but it needs to be somehow more transparent. I don’t like the brick. it is way too clunky.

    Other iconic “things:” that could be utilized:
    big blue bug
    Roger Williams
    Bridge Icons
    lobster and clam touch tank
    Independent Man

    I have to ruminate on all the financial implications, but I will say that anyone who wants to do development in Providence (almost anywhere) is going to ask for some kind of public hand out in one form or another. This one might be egregious, but to assume that there are developers out there who will ask for NOTHING from the state or the city is just magical thinking.

  40. Ryan Boisse April 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    I know this may be awkward with Cincy and all, but how about the Rhode Island Reds?

  41. Runaway Jim April 16, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    How about we name them… oh I don’t know… the Providence Grays?

    I’d rather see a giant anchor rather than the lighthouse. It’s super fugly and looks out of place. I really wish the anchor was used more around the state than just on the flag. It’s a pretty awesome symbol.

    I also don’t like the idea of the Red Sox logo all around the stadium. It makes it look a little less classy (also, I hate the Boston Red Sox, but support our local team).

    I am glad they incorporated an extended riverwalk into the design.

  42. Ethan April 17, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Agree with Jim: Providenxe Grays would be a great name. World Champs back in…1887?

    As for the financials. This proposal is ridiculous. But you can say it’s ridiculous without believing that no developer should ever get a TSA or some other tax deal. This should be treated by the state as a negotiation where one party goes way high and the other says “how about we give you nothing and walk away” and then they meet somewhere eventually (though preferably not in the middle because in this case that’s still be too high for my taste). If they don’t meet, then let the team walk. I do worry, though, that Mr. Skeffington is just too good at what he does and too embedded in the governing club that political leaders will not have the bargaining fortitude to negotiate well on our behalf as Providence and RI residents.

  43. Dan April 17, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    @JCK It was my understanding that the park would be leased back to the PawSox in its entirety, not for just the 70 or so games per year they will play there. If this is the case, this means they control all scheduling and booking of the park and that revenue generated from those events (other than taxes) would go to the ownership. Unless it is spelled out in the lease agreement why would the PawSox ownership not charge the city and the state for its use.

  44. That Flying Weasel April 17, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    Financially, the stadium is a bad deal for Rhode Island.

    Charlotte and Mecklenburg County each paid a one-time sum of $8 million towards Charlotte’s ballpark. The team owners paid the rest.

    Rhode Island will be on the hook for $120 million+ dollars in what is clearly not a good investment of state money.

    Despite what Skeffington’s hired consultants say, urban pro sports stadiums generate little to no economic activity. Minor league stadiums even less so.

  45. James April 17, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    $4 M a year is a shit-ton of Dutch-quality bike lanes.

    The proposal to have the stadium by into an already-planned garage is not the worst proposal, but I can’t help but feel that the subsidy can be considered as much going to the garage part of the project as the stadium itself (I oppose subsidizing both, but I really fiercely oppose subsidized parking). The ticket cost has only a $3 parking surcharge, during a peak period of use? Let me just say I find it suspicious.

  46. James April 17, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Sorry, buy, not by. Autocorrect.

  47. JCK April 17, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    @Dan: Ah, I probably just assumed otherwise because that seems like an idiotic deal for the state, especially if they’re also asking for tax relief from the city. I’m definitely not seeing any of the supposed risk Skeffington says the ownership group is taking here.

    I mean if that’s the case, it would probably be a better deal for the state to just pay for the stadium up front, own it, and then lease it to the Sox for 71 games per year for 30 years (with a massive penalty for breaking the lease). The state would have a long term tenant, still reap that supposed $2M in tax revenue, still reap all the other economic stimulus the stadium would provide, plus they’d be able to benefit from other rental revenue and concessions at concerts, etc. And they’d be starting $85M in the hole over 30 years instead of $120M.

    (To be clear, I’m not saying that’s a good idea, just that it seems like a better idea compared to what was proposed. Also, acknowledging my math is super rudimentary and doesn’t take into consideration things like inflation, etc.)

    @Sam: 38 Studios had a very slim chance of succeeding. Most games have a slim chance of succeeding. It’s a hits driven business and big successes pay for all the failures, which is why you shouldn’t put your entire investment pool into one title.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but it was massively underfunded for the type of game they were trying to make and I don’t think anyone in the RI statehouse understood the video game industry to really get what they were investing in. (It’s the equivalent of the state putting $75M into a movie that has a projected $150M without any idea where the other half of the money came from, and it’s being directed by a rookie director with no track record and starring a bunch of no-name actors no one has heard of… no one would ever thing that’s a good idea, and clearly it’s not even remotely the same as this stadium thing.)

    Again, I’m not saying this is a good deal, or even a better deal (though I think it probably is, since 38 Studios had near zero upside in my opinion), just that the comparison is a terrible one that we shouldn’t be making.

  48. JCK April 17, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    P.S. @Sam:

    I know stadiums are generally bad investments (this is a great primer: ).

    I was literally just pointing out that this is nothing like 38 Studios and that comparison is bad. I’m not saying they’re not both bad ideas or bad investments. Just that saying, “This is another 38 Studios!” (which a lot of people are saying — “38 Stadium” is a thing I keep hearing) is misinformed and unproductive.

  49. KCB April 17, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    I’d rather just see a big obelisk than a lighthouse. I like looking towards the river from the Jewelry District and seeing multiple obelisk monument or steeple structures. I think it looks cool and olde-fashioned. Maybe a monument to Providence’s history in the sports world… baseball (Grays), football (Steamrollers), and bicycle racing (Cycledrome).

    Co-locating a hotel (not a low-cost, budget hotel or Hampton Suites style no-frills hotel) is such a necessity. The foot traffic is needed, and it becomes a nice perk for event organizers. This building and how it fits with the stadium development is a major part of the whole project, and we aren’t hearing anything about it yet. Will there be open terraces that have views over the left field berm into the stadium? Will rooms have balconies looking into the stadium and towards the river, east side, jewelry district land, and downtown? The hotel itself should be a destination… read: conference room, spa, outdoor spaces, on-site restaurant.

    Early in the discourse, there were ideas being thrown out there about incorporating apartments into the project. At the very least, a mixed use hotel/apartment building should be considered. There are people that are attracted to living near loud stadiums, and being close to everything. Having these people “hold down” the neighborhood year round will make it more of a real place, with better year round density. Downtown density is what we need, and i’m willing to slide on some property tax revenue if I can see the upside in the economic multiplier effect potential of more people living downtown. There is already probably 750-1000 more residents in the Jewelry District when this stadium would open, right? Give us 200-250 more residential units and 250 hotel rooms and we bend and give them a similar tax stabilization plan that Cornish gets when it does a loft project (less than 10-12 years?).

    Ultimately, the City and State may need to cede direct property tax upside for 10-12 years — and that’s okay. But, NOT 30 years. A decade of consistent build-out that increases density, while the City is collecting food & beverage tax, fees/permits, motor vehicle, tangible tax, etc. is not terrible, when those 2,000-3,000 (hopefully more) new residents go on the tax rolls in a decade, the City will be realizing its investment. Yields in securities are so low right now, the City should allocate its focus to putting itself in a position to collect higher taxes once the grace periods end.

  50. Mark Rechter April 17, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    The stadium at 10,000 seats is too small. It will accommodate most baseball games, but the Pawsox frequently go as high as 12,000, especially for special events or when a major player is doing rehab. The stadium needs 15,000-20,000 for football games. Brown football has been playing Harvard at night which has been drawing 15000-20000 fans. I am sure other games could be scheduled at night and the residents around the stadium would be relieved of the noise and congestion. Brown should be in the discussion with funds of their own. Brown should also be vacating the property it has on Elmgrove Ave. They had nearly twice as much property when baseball, soccer and lacrosse were played on a field, extending from Elmgove Ave to Cole Ave, adjacent to the former Marvel Gym. Brown sold most of their property, now homesites, when sports were moved closer to their campus on the former Dexter Training grounds. Selling the Elmgrove property to developers would give Providence a larger residential tax base. Four duplexes on Taft Ave are now being built on former Brown property. The four surly equal $1.5 million worth of residential property. Thus, while I am not happy about giving land away for $1, the city would be capturing some 30 acres of prime East Side residential land that is now not taxed.

  51. PBoyce April 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    I don’t know if anyone has noted the parallels to what is happening in Hartford. The New Britain Rock Cats are moving to Hartford and calling themselves the Hartford Yard Goats. This is a Double A club and the stadium will have a slightly lower capacity with a cost of $56 million, but I believe the city is paying for the stadium. They are also planning for the a large development around it.

  52. Sam April 17, 2015 at 3:52 pm #


    I understand why 38 Studios failed, and I don’t need your primers. All I see is you saying things like this,

    “Again, I’m not saying this is a good deal, or even a better deal (though I think it probably is, since 38 Studios had near zero upside in my opinion),”

    and then what I’m left wondering is where EXACTLY you see upside in this proposal?!

    I’ve made it very clear why I think this is in fact comparable to the 38 Studios debacle on several levels, and also why I think this is demonstrably worse. In any case, surely we can agree that these are both instances of RI throwing money down a pit on a mammoth scale. But maybe not. You see upside. Perhaps you would be so kind as to explain this upside that you see. And I don’t mean the feel-good “potentially transformative ” crap that Larry Lucchino was dishing out at the presser for this proposal, because if one thing is clear about this proposal, it’s about buying dreams and not about economic development. Can RI and Providence afford dreams this expensive?

    The one thing that gives me hope is that, as far as I can tell, the backlash against this proposal has been tremendous.

  53. David Rocha April 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    I like the idea of the state straight up building and owning the stadium (and we could reallocate park funds towards the project), but I feel the backlash would be even greater if we were to pursue that direction.
    I actually wish this stadium was bolder in scope. I feel like if the state were get ahead of the curve on this, they could look at building another deck of seating, which would double the base seating to twenty thousand. When you factor the non-baseball use reconfiguration adding an alleged four thousand seats on the other side, you suddenly have a stadium that could also host a pro soccer team, and we could approach the Kraft dynasty about it serving as the new home for the Revolution.
    Of course, this is all very lofty daydreaming, but the multiplier effect would in essence, be multiplied, as the prime market for soccer in New England is the Providence metro area, not the Boston metro area. Having a Portugal vs. U.S. friendly in a stadium in Providence would do much better than it did in Foxboro. Again, I’m going off a bit into daydream land.
    The fact of the matter is that if the state were to build this stadium, as is, for eighty-five million, we’d have to borrow to do so, and the interest on that borrowing would put us right back into the hundred and twenty million dollar (plus) figure we’re looking at now, with the state now looking at the burden of dealing with city compensation.
    I wish there was a silver bullet solution to all of this, but in the end, I still feel like this is an asset that would bolster the city and state as a whole. We don’t commonly factor in such intangibles like the value of people seeing the city skyline on tv when a game is aired across the country. Things like that are a subtle form of free press, raising the profile of the city. There’s something to be said for a sports fan in Seattle or something seeing Providence on tv and thinking “Wow, Providence is really pretty”.

  54. JCK April 17, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    @Sam: Because in the 38 Studios fiasco, the state blew the majority of the Rhode Island Job Creation Guaranty Program money on a fledgling company, with a mediocre track record (barely any track record, actually), a rookie founder with no experience running a company of that size, for a project that was massively underfunded and in a hit driven business (video games) that produces more failures than successes — especially when it comes to new IP (see: ). There was basically nothing to like about that deal, except that it allowed members of the state house to rub elbows with a local sports hero.

    That money, which was specifically earmarked for job creation, could have been much more wisely invested in providing $250k-$5M loan guarantees to probably 50-100 startups. It would have been a lot smarter to spread out the risk, rather than put all the money into probably the riskiest possible investment that had red flags up the wazoo from the start.

    Now, if you actually read my responses in this thread, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m generally not positive about this current deal as structured. But, let’s hope this is just an opening salvo in negotiations and the city and state can get to a deal framework that is more positive for the interests of Providence and its people. (And, yes, I think such a deal probably does exist, this one just isn’t there in its current form.)

    My point, however, remains that you should stop comparing this to 38 Studios because they are wildly different, the comparison is a bad one and it does nothing productive for the conversation.

  55. Sam April 17, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    And ballparks are not economic development. So we have $75m already flushed down the toilet with no return and we have potentially $120m flushed down the toilet with no foreseeable return. Terrific. You’ve definitely found the most important element of this discussion to key in on …

  56. person April 17, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    Here’s what’s most upsetting to me: The people who want to build LABORATORIES are apparently getting no attention from the statehouse. These people have developed a successful biotech incubator in Cambridge, but they can’t get state support for Providence. Those are good jobs and would attract a lot more biotech jobs than a fucking ballpark.

    The statehouse doesn’t care that much about our long-term health. If Chafee were still in office, I’d actually feel much better. I know he’d look at all the facts, and support the Worcester Red Sox if it was best for our state. But Raimondo is a bit of an unknown. Will she sign a deal that’s bad for the state, but bolster her career? Will she consider the worst case scenarios when making the final decision?

  57. JCK April 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    @Sam: I didn’t zero in on it, you did. I merely stated a position that the comparison is a poor one (and that’s still the truth). Since you can’t seem to get what I’m saying, though, I’ll let people who are probably smarter than I am do it for me.

    “It doesn’t matter that this stadium proposal has nothing in common with Schilling’s pipe dream of becoming a video game magnate. The new owners of the Paw Sox are seasoned business executives and baseball experts, including Boston Red Sox owner Larry Lucchino and such celebrated Rhode Island business leaders as retired Fleet banker Terry Murray and retired CVS CEO Tom Ryan. A stadium is a tangible asset, the farthest thing from 38 Studios, which was little more than a collection of hipster computer jockeys clicking away on laptops. Lucchino has vast experience building retro baseball stadiums that have enhanced their neighborhoods, including Camden Yards in Baltimore, Petco Park in San Diego, Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers and the widely-praised renovations to Fenway Park in Boston’s Back Bay.”

    — Scott McKay, RINPR,

    (McKay has been very wary of this deal from the start, by the way, he just recognizes that a fair evaluation requires that we speak about the proposal in intellectually honest terms.)

    “This is not 38 Studios. I know, it seems like an easy connection to make–they both have to do with baseball! Except beyond that thin connection, the two scenarios couldn’t be any more different. Rhode Island made a loan guarantee to a sports hero who had zero experience running a business, he just happened to like video games. In this case, we’re talking about giving tax breaks to a group of experienced business people who have already proven their success, who clearly know what they are doing, and who are throwing down their own $85 million to get the thing off the ground. Instead of a software company that will employ a handful of people until it inevitably collapses, this time we’re getting a physical sports facility that will enhance our city and state. Comparing this – or anything – to 38 Studios is the cheapest and easiest piece of political rhetoric that can be employed in Rhode Island. It gets lobbed from the left, the right and the middle. The comparison absolutely does not apply here.”

    –Mark Gray on,

    That’s the last I’ll say on this. I don’t want to derail what is otherwise a productive forum for discussion on this any more arguing with you.

  58. David Rocha April 18, 2015 at 4:50 am #

    38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios, 38 Studios.

    There. Are we done with this nonsense? It’s not the same damn thing. It’s just not. It’s similar because it might require some state investment to some extent, but that is ultimately all it is, a potential state investment into something that may or may not ultimately pay off in direct terms. Those are the only REAL similarities. I’m SO tired of this nonsense. Not just in this forum, or in other forums, but in terms of the human condition. We are so inclined to create an emotional attachment to perceived wrongs, that we view future scenarios through the filter of such scenarios. Just stop it, it’s not the same thing. Stop.
    Let’s approach this proposal the way we would a spring noon. We can either fly a kite, or wallow over the fact that it’s not summer. I’m tired of this counter-productive gibberish. Let’s just look at the scenario in the broadest of terms, and try to make the best of it. MOVE ON.

  59. person April 18, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    DAvid, you can’t just ignore it. There should be a large burden of proof to show that we will benefit from this.

    Furthermore, there’s only so much political capital to be spent on public investment. Is this the best way to spend it? If a stadium means we can’t invest in a biotech incubator, does it still make sense?

    Again, compare this stadium development to this story:

  60. Jef Nickerson April 18, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    I’m sorry, when people start comparing things to 38 Studios, I stop listening to them. “Because 38 Studios,” is not a cogent discussion point.

  61. mothra April 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    I think a gigantic anchor, especially if this thing doesn’t become the red hot success, would be a very literal symbol of utter failure. I don’t think an Anchor is a great idea.

    Here’s the thing, 10k is fewer than what Waterfire brings in on a big night. Fewer than what the Dunk and the Convention Center bring in on big events. Maybe fewer than JW graduation. It isn’t that big. Yes, it is a HUGE investment, but it will not be a huge drain on city resources, not if we look at what is draining (or contributing to–all depends on perspective) already.

    I am not a sports venue economists but I can tell you that the restaurants and businesses around Camden Yards in Baltimore, and Fenway Park in Boston make BANK whenever there is a game in town. There’s a whole industry that springs up during baseball season–you can go down and hang around and never seen see the game and still be part of all the frivolity, and spend your money.

    The fact that this stadium could conceivably be walking distance to thousands of Providence residents is kind of cool.

  62. person April 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    I bet the state will push for more parking in negotiations.

  63. Michael April 18, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    Would people rather fund this, or fund a 110 (or 111) Westminster project

  64. mothra April 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    I’d rather fund a ball park than an apartment/condo complex. I do not believe that apartments will bring the kind of economic “pluses” to downtown like something like a ball park will.

  65. Sam April 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm #


    “In this case, we’re talking about giving tax breaks to a group of experienced business people who have already proven their success, who clearly know what they are doing …”

    Only furthers my point, which you cannot or will not accept. Fantastic: these assholes are experienced in a business that according to general consensus among real economists DOES NOT create new revenues. Which is still a wash at best compared to current status quo, probably a significant loss, but whatever. If you’re determined to claim your faulty ground, that’s no skin off my back. Ignorance is bliss, so I’m told.

  66. person April 19, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    @Michael, I’d rather they fund a biotech incubator.

    @Sam, I’m very against the proposal as it stands. However, Andrew Zimbalist is a real economist and one of the most vocal critics of Boston 2024. He says the pawsox deal looks good as an initial offer, and really could generate a lot of new revenue. I don’t know if he was fully informed of the details, or if he’s aware of the context of the 195 land.

  67. mothra April 19, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Tax breaks and perks are often given to successful people for a few reason:

    1. they know how to leverage monies and benefits from different sources
    2. because they have a good track record, the ROI is higher which is far more attractive than an unknown developer
    3. Because they have better people on staff to lobby for the project.

    It is like getting a really good interest rate–you get it because your credit is excellent and you basically have all the money you need already.

    And remember, this is a negotiation and the proposal was simply the first volley. The GA and the City will both come back with alternatives, different plans and ideas and requests of the developer.

    Providence (like many other small cities) often is presented with the lowest common denominator project and planning et al have to negotiate from the bottom just to try to pull something out of them that doesn’t completely suck. Maybe someday, Providence will be attractive enough to developers to present their highest and greatest use for a piece of property, and the city and state have the fortitude to continue to ask for even more.

  68. JCK April 19, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    @Sam: You might be right that this is a bad deal (I never said otherwise, though I think it still needs a lot more vetting and a chance for negotiation to make it better). I’m still right that the comparison to 38 Studios is bad comparison and this is nothing like this (unless you live in some bizarro world where all bad deals, regardless of all other factors, are equivalent because bad things are the same … that’s like a first grader’s logic. No shades of gray.)

    Also: “general consensus among real economists DOES NOT create new revenues” … you forgot to add the part about “when publicly funded.” And there’s obviously a huge difference between stadiums that are fully funded with public money and stadiums that are funded with, say, 10% of public money. Also between different funding vehicles. Not all proposals for public support to build things are equal just because they use some amount of public money and something is built. Not all stadium proposals are even equal. To suggest otherwise is to be dishonest, again. Stop doing that. Stop comparing things completely out of context.

    We get it, you don’t like stadiums. Or you don’t like this ownership group. Or you don’t like this stadium. Whichever. But at least argue in honest terms if you want to add anything of value to conversation. (Everyone else is doing that!)

  69. JCK April 19, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    @person: To be fair, that Projo article says that people behind the proposed biotech lab think the Raimondo admin passed on their proposal (or at least brushed them off, since I’m not sure it was every really passed on — the Projo article says the biotech lab guys suspended their efforts), is because they’re working with others on similar proposals that are larger in scope.

    The big problem here is that we don’t know because all this stuff is being kept secret. The 195 Commission needs to be way more transparent about the bid process, who is bidding, why they’re making the decisions they do, etc.

    For all we know, the Cambridge Biotech proposal was a bad one (maybe they had no funding at all, maybe they wanted really terrible terms, maybe some other red flag came up in due diligence, or maybe, like they speculate, there were already better, equivalent proposals on the table). The real problem is that we don’t know.

    They’ve at least started releasing details on failed bids, but I don’t think any of us think that’s transparent enough.

  70. KCB April 19, 2015 at 10:41 am #


    I never said that. Don’t misquote me. JCK said that.

  71. KCB April 19, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    David and Jef, thank you for saying something directly to these uninformed people trying to say this is like 38 studios. The easiest solution for a lazy person who hates change is to decry said change as reason not to pursue it. It’s sad only because it’s the mantra of a hypocritical Rhode Islander. Maybe, a small series of wins in the form of successful development will bring these people to take a more positive and constructive opinion on projects that can enhance our capital city and state.

  72. JCK April 19, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    @KCB: I think he just got us mixed up because our usernames are sort of, kind of similar. (Also, hey, I’ve been trying to quash this silly 38 Studios comparison the whole time! ;))

  73. barry April 20, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    While there are indeed significant differences from 38 Studios there are also similarities that make it not a silly comparison.
    Similarities include: taking advantage of the interest in sports by fans to get taxpayer subsidies; using connections to political insiders (Carcieri in the first case, a whole bunch now) to facilitate support that seems to be rushed through without much chance for public input or due diligence (this assumes a state contribution needs to be decided by the end of the session) critics are insulted with terms like “lazy” or “hypocritical” as above, even Chafee was a victim of this kind of langauge on the 38 Studios; and if the business goes under (less likely this time but possible) taxayers are left with a failed investment.
    By the way, the non-sceintific Projo on-line poll has public opinion 92% to 8% agaisnt a subsidy.

  74. Ethan Gyles April 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I’m impressed with the scale of social media opposition to this proposal. I don’t know that the gatekeepers at the state level are tuned into it, though. Direct contact is needed to break through. If even a fraction of those opposed take the step of calling, e-mailing, or writing to the Speaker, Senate President, and Governor’s offices we might get their attention before the lobbying momentum inside their governmental bubble is too strong to sway.

  75. Stanison April 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    Instead of the lighthouse, let’s create a new RI icon – the Independant Woman.

  76. David Rocha April 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    The thing is though, and I may be wrong in my assumption on this, most of the people that frequent this site, and have for a considerable amount of time, favor this project, even if the deal needs tweeking.
    I wouldn’t use Projo poll trolls as any real tool for assessing much of anything… ever. It’s easy to take a side based on kneejerk reaction, relying on convenient comparisons and catchphrases, so a lot more people do exactly that. Meanwhile, the folks that congregate in this little corner of the internet tend to take more thoughtful and informed positions on things that influence the fabric of the city. I don’t mean this in any arrogant sense of clique superiority or anything, it’s just the nature of a site like this to be generally populated by people that have either extensively studied/worked within the range of topics that apply to urban development, or are just genuinely interested in engaging in the most thorough dialogue on the topic that they can find. If you want an educated opinion, this would be the place to find it.
    This is also the reason the “38 Studios” comparison is considered so tired. It’s easy, only partially relevant, and ultimately a conversational setback to debating the merits of this proposal.
    I’m not saying that EVERYBODY agrees on everything, but opinions should be backed by substantial data and relevant comparisons that enhance the debate, or else it’s just moody bickering, like in the Projo “vomment” section.

  77. Jef Nickerson April 20, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Who gets to sell the naming rights for the stadium and how much do we think Alex + Ani is willing to pay?

  78. David Rocha April 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    “Mothra”, I agree with just about everything in your last comment. My main deviation would be that I believe Providence is already in a position to demand great projects, but there is a failure of vision and consistency in our local leadership to execute this. Many of our leaders often don’t even comprehend how good some proposals are, nevermind have the criteria in mind for how they could be better.

  79. David Rocha April 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    Jef, those are both excellent questions. I’d really love it if Dunkin’ Donuts bought the rights to the stadium, so you could have awkward-sounding conversations about seeing the Bruins at the Dunk at night, after a nice day of watching the Red Sox at the other Dunk. “No, not that Dunk, the OTHER Dunk, the one that’s an exit south”.

  80. KCB April 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    David, I agree with you on the ProJo comment section.

    You have to find the people who are carrying the “Keep them in Pawtucket” banner a little comical. I bet you the average troll hasn’t been to a PawSox game in at least 5 years and couldn’t tell you that they’ve been to 3 championships in 4 years.

    Their rallying cry is “people won’t pay to park”. When I hear this I just shut down, I don’t find a compelling reason to waste anymore time speaking with that person because they clearly are focused on things that really don’t matter all that much. Free parking, or $3 parking, it will not stop someone from going to a game. $1 city services fee on a ticket sale will not stop anyone from going to a game. It just won’t. The ancillary benefits of being located in downtown (and walking distance to a train station) will outweigh the small fraction of people that refuse to pay the $3 to park.

    The governor’s administration will never let the Red Sox leave RI. I think we need to just come to the realization that there will be a deal, and we will not get favorable terms. We should be trying to cap the property tax subsidization to 10 years, and retain ownership of the land, I don’t care if we have to pay a million dollars a year to keep them as a tenant, as long as we still own the land in 30 years and there is a roadmap to capture those costs back in tax revenue. It’s critical that they can never come back to the State or City and ask for renovation funds. We own the land, they own the structure. 10 years to get established, and no more tax breaks after that. Personally, I’d even be okay with paying for the utilities to be moved, since we will still own the land; that may be a good kicker to get the negotiations moving. I know that National Grid has a large outstanding balance owed to the City for police details, so we can start with those funds. It sounds like that will be $8-10 million for the utilities to be moved, which I think is an amount that we can absorb and make back on the deal later. I know National Grid has put some money away to move the India Point power lines, maybe some of these funds can be used to get the project rolling?

  81. person April 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Instead of a lighthouse, it should be a Rhode Island Red. Just picture it: A giant brick chicken on the banks of the river.

  82. Aaron April 20, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    Forgive me if this has been mentioned in the preceding 80+ posts, but one small but I think important point has been consistently lost in the conversation is that of the stadium as an “investment” and “economic engine.” There has been tremendous discussion about whether or not this proposal (or any proposal) would be “good” for the state/for Providence/for taxpayers/etc. In particular, there has been extensive reference to countless studies that describe how stadiums are not economic generators.

    My thoughts: so what. I think, in some ways, the collective “we” are failing to see (or at least outright acknowledge) the forest for the trees. Every day every single one of us spends money on things we don’t need, not because we expect in thirty years that there will be more money in our pockets, but because we enjoy things in life. And I think the stadium discussion is severely lacking in this aspect. While of course the finer points of the proposal are a necessary evil, I’m wholeheartedly for SOME deal because I think it will make Providence an even better place to live. Period. I think a mixed-use waterfront ballpark next to a 21st-century pedestrian bridge, all in the middle of an up-and-coming district is something to fight for. And it’s okay to spend money that you don’t expect to recoup to help fight that fight.

  83. Jason April 20, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

    Aaron, my post linked to above (or click on my name) gets to this. There is real use-value and opportunity for a certain kind of place-making here that shouldn’t be undervalued.

    Unfortunately, it’s far, far easier and more common to overvalue it when it comes to sports stadiums.

  84. mothra April 20, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    I think many of us HERE have been noting the economic opportunities (just visit Wrigleyville, Camden Yards, Fenway on game days/nights) to see the secondary affect–restaurants, bars, shops, etc.

    The idea that people are actually saying that people won’t pay to park? People pay to park every time they come downtown to see some huge superstar at the Dunk–up to 25$ a night!

    Many stories tell the tale of how publicly owned stadiums and big amenities like this never pan out, but I am not sure that’s what this is.

    If I was in RI I would be at the forefront of supporting it with cautious enthusiasm. I am, however a little surprised at the plethora of facebook pages demanding that the team stay in Pawtucket. Duh. They aren’t staying in Pawtucket. The best way to fight this would be legally–using zoning, and comp plans to say that the use isn’t allowed.

    I don’t think the funding/landswap will go to any kind of public referendum, will it?

  85. Gio April 20, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    Aaron hit the nail on the head, this stadium could become the best and most enjoyable piece of development this city had ever seen.

  86. Ethan Gyles April 21, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    Re: Facebook groups — the super active ones right now are not about keeping the team in Pawtucket. Yes, there are some folks who hold out hope for this. And some trolls. But most of the opposition, and mine, is simply and earnestly against the outrageous financials of the Providence proposal.

    I think a ballpark would be a nice addition to the city, and a fun, lively attraction. But I also believe the city should get a concrete revenue stream out of it, and not just inflated hopeful numbers about catalyzed growth that impartial research concludes rarely lives up to predictions. We’ll be holding the bag for a lot of the facility’s costs for public safety, water/wastewater infrastructure and it would be wise to convince our elected officials renegotiate something that covers these costs *at minimum*, or walk away from the deal entirely.

  87. David Rocha April 21, 2015 at 2:05 am #

    See, I agree with the fact that there’s a need for negotiation, and that’s why the owners put the current offer on the table. That’s how you negotiate successfully, you put more than you really want on the table, and you meet eachother somewhere in the middle. I personally think this is our negotiation to screw up at this point because the only real area that they seriously need to make major concessions on is the exact place you (Ethan) stated, the financial burden to the city.
    Perhaps we can talk them down on the lease to the state as well, or even counter with an entirely different arrangement altogether, but if I were to choose, I would rather all further negotiations favor the city, because that is the entity at the table that has least to gain immediately as things stand.
    I also think we need to differentiate between the studies on the ROI of stadiums, because most of the studies stating neutral or negative returns focus on much larger stadiums, whereas about every case study specifically about a minor league baseball park in a mid-sized city seems to state the opposite. I feel like honing in our focus can give us a clearer picture of what to expect.

  88. Ethan April 21, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    David, can you share the studies you’ve seen on minor league ballparks in mid-sized cities that conclude there was positive ROI? I honestly have not come across them and would like to read.

  89. jen coleslaw April 21, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Indianapolis is a very good case study for sports tourism (NCAA, Indy 500 etc) creating a positive ROI and invigorating their downtown. I think I sent a link to Jef a week or so ago and I’ll try to find it again. It is too bad it is in Indiana, though, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

  90. Runaway Jim April 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I second David’s and Aaron’s points. Someone made the point (either here or in Dan McGowan’s Prov Politics FB group) that Aaron made. It’s not necessarily the financial gain that this would bring to the city/state, it’s the quality of life and enjoyment gain that it would bring. A former colleague of mine moved to Durham and lives/works/plays in the American Tobacco complex, where the Durham Bulls happen to play. I know she goes to games on occasion, something she wouldn’t likely do here living and working in Providence with the PawSox in Pawtucket. I’m in the same boat. I’m not likely to go to a PawSox game (I’ve been to 2 or 3 in the nearly 12 years I’ve been here) because there’s nothing really to do but go to the game. With a stadium downtown, I’d be more likely to go to a game and then grab drinks or hit a show afterwards. As it stands now, I go downtown for dinner, the occasional shopping trip (I’m not much of a shopper), occasionally for drinks (though I tend to stay on the outskirts for that), or for live music (what brings me downtown most often). But I like baseball and enjoy watching games. This would add a “cool” factor to Providence in the summer (something we lack, other than Waterfire, which only happens on weekends). More/better corporate boxes could be picked up by corporations downtown and keep their employees hanging out downtown after work for dinner, drinks, and a game (not necessarily in that order). It would be something to do midweek for the folks who live downtown.

    So yes, I do support the stadium downtown. I don’t fully support what they’re asking for. The city has the most to lose if they’re not collecting taxes. The city provides the police force, the infrastructure, the roads, and the litter cleanup. The city needs to make something off of this directly from the property. I don’t, however, have any issue with the state giving the handout requested, though I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t negotiate them down (which I would be surprised if they didn’t).

    Jen, is Indy the best case study to use? They have major league sports (football and basketball) in town, the NCAA tourney is big money (didn’t that bring in a lot of tourists to Providence?), and the Indy 500 is the largest spectator sporting event in the country. However, their arena, football stadium, and minor league baseball stadium are all downtown… within blocks of each other (I think the longest distance is about the same as the Dunk to the proposed stadium site).

  91. Sam April 21, 2015 at 2:50 pm #


    Apologies for the misattribution. Verysorry!


    Exactly! Thank you.


    “I’m still right that the comparison to 38 Studios is bad comparison and this is nothing like this (unless you live in some bizarro world where all bad deals, regardless of all other factors, are equivalent because bad things are the same … that’s like a first grader’s logic. No shades of gray.)”

    Throwing money down a pit is throwing money down a pit. A lot of money. No chance of retrieving it. Deep pit.

    As to your quibble about my failure to include the “publicly funded” qualification to my earlier statements … so what? What’s the relevancy here? Are you suggesting that this proposal is somehow NOT a massive public subsidy?

    To be clear, my problem is not ballparks generally or this ownership group specifically (although I am highly skeptical), but rather this proposal, which amounts to welfare for the wealthy in a state with a large deficit, poor infrastructure, and an under-educated workforce. Priorities …

  92. Ethan Gyles April 21, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Starting tomorrow, there will be an organized phone/e-mail blitz to elected officials. Details here:

  93. David Rocha April 22, 2015 at 4:17 am #

    Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be calling in support of further negotiations.

  94. Ethan Gyles April 24, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    This coming Monday’s 195 Commission meeting will involve the PawSox ownership formally presenting their proposal. A couple hours ago, public pressure brought about an open and public meeting rather than the closed door “executive session” which had been planned. A win for transparency regardless of your opinion on the proposal:

  95. Aaron April 26, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    A critical update in the negotiation process: a possible land sale, rather than a $1 annual lease.

  96. Jason April 26, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    I don’t know why a land sale makes a better deal. That’s not a structural component of great concern. It’s mostly about math.

  97. barry April 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Those objecting to the proposed gveaway of taxpayer money or land have called for a protest at 3:45pm Monday, April 27 at the Commerce Dept HQ on “Iron Horse Way” (aka Valley St) where the I-195 Commission has a public meeting on this issue though no public comment can be taken. This has supportfrom Occupy Providence to the Tea Party.

    Have to laugh at Skeffington saying he is trying to keep the team in RI. If that were the case, stay at McCoy, a far better venue for most.

    By the way, one of my businessman friends says ths kind of insider deal (as the 38 Studios, Tiverton casino, Providence Economic Development Partnership, where politicians give away resources to their friends deters serious businesses from locating here as they see this as a pay to play regime. Golocal has detailed how much Skeffington, Ryan, Murray and their wives contributed to Raimondo.

  98. Aaron April 27, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    @Jason, it’s not so much that it makes it a better deal, but it’s cautiously encouraging to see the terms of the original proposal change.

  99. person April 27, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    I hope this is true:

    It wouldn’t be as spectacular as the other site, but it would certainly be cheaper. And it shows they’re serious about staying in RI. Only downsides are there’s more room for surface parking, and it wouldn’t be as much of a signature.

  100. Jef Nickerson April 27, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    I like the Victory Plating site, I do see two drawbacks however.

    It is further from the downtown core, and you know people are allergic to walking (it is not an insignificant walk to say Westminster Street). So the benefit to existing downtown businesses is less. The streetcar (shown in blue above) could mitigate that.

    The other is (at least) two historic buildings on site. Tops Electric on Point Street and Ward Baking on Eddy (both marked in red above). Looks like Tops could be incorporated into the stadium, Ward looks more difficult.

    The sort of hip warehouse district neighborhood that could develop around the Victory site is enticing to think about. That one block of Richmond where we have a succession of failed restaurants might actually become successfully developed and expanded.

  101. Gio April 27, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    I don’t mind this relocation completely, It fills in a lot of vacant land, closer to the highway and isn’t totally removed from the original spot. Although the surrounding area is now worse than the Pawtucket location with crumbling manufacturing buildings, large oil tanks, and the electricity plant in plain view while unfortunately removing a few of the existing brick building that are in good shape.

  102. Dan April 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I have some big questions about this. There is no information in the article as to where GoLocal got this. Who is floating this alternative? PawSox? State? City? Who commissoned the renderings? How did they obtain them? Perkins + Will didn’t just do this on their own. Who bankrolled this? Who owns the this land? A quick check of the city tax roles shows the parcels are owned by several different real estate LLC’s; Richmond Realty, Jag Investment Realty, Wyndham Properties and City Top Realty Inc. Did one of them do this? Are all these owners aware of this proposal? Is there any connection to the owners of GoLocal? Unless they reveal where this is coming from my first reaction is to call this BS or part of someone else’s agenda to derail negotiations for the original proposal. GoLocal has trashed the PawSox management from day one. They scream for transparency but are providing none on this “exclusive”.

    This location was mentioned by someone on this site weeks ago and, like Jef said, could actually be done without the loss of the existing buildings. If you go out and look at the Toledo Mudhens’ park they have incorporated the older buildings in and around the park into the design and from looking at Jef’s post you can see that both those existing buildings could easily have been incorporated into the stadium without impacting the field itself. This is why I also tend to question the origin of this proposal as it is pretty clear that no real site analysis was done for this. It looks more like the early speculation done on this site where generic ball park layouts were dropped onto a map to see if it fits.

    That being said. I think any legitimate proposal deserves being looked at to see if this can be done with minimal impact to the tax payers. Of course right now this has absolutely no details on who will own it? who will build it? Who will finance it? What kind of givebacks will the current landowners will be looking for? I think whoever is proposing this should step forward with a legitimate proposal and tell the taxpayers what they will be eventually looking for.

  103. Michael April 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    A 2nd proposal shows that they want to build here

  104. Jef Nickerson April 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

  105. Jef Nickerson April 27, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

  106. KCB April 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    Based on the last 48 hours of news, my translation of two stories:

    1. Skeffington wants to meet with Gov. to discuss purchasing the land.
    Translation: Blowback from our initial proposal was as expected (or worse) and we need to calm the situation. Need to gain traction fast, before anyone has time to release alternatives.

    2. Leak of an alternate site, probably done by someone against the river location, forces Lucchino to come out with a statement indicating “river land or nothing”, as a way to preserve negotiating leverage.
    Translation: Red Sox group willing to pay whatever is necessary to build on the riverfront, but are putting on a nice front to attempt to get the best deal.

    I’m actually pleased with the current situation. Elorza, Raimondo, 195 Commission, City Council, should release a joint statement saying the 30 year tax holiday is a non-starter. They should also say that they are not interested in selling the land, they prefer the group to pay rent that will allow the taxpayers to recoup their cost for the land. After 30 year lease, City of Providence retains control of the land. They could top the scales towards the taxpayer in these negotiations.

  107. Dan April 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm #


    Sounds about right to me. I smelled a rat with this “alternative site” from the get go. Since none of the other media outlets ran with this, either Go Local was duped or they were willing to put forth someone else’s agenda. Egg in their face no matter what way you look at it.

    Why wouldn’t Skefington and Luchino not put out an initial proposal that is more favorable to them. Its business. The fact that they are now “back peddling” as some would call it only shows they know their initial offer was low balling and are willing to negotiate. I am also glad the City and the State look like they are not going to fall over and just give away the store. If they can’t reach an agreement and the PawSox go somewhere else I will be disappointed but not if in the end the deal wasn’t sensible to taxpayers.

    So has anybody asked Luchino and Skeffington if they really want a team called the WOR-SOX. Pronounced “worsesox”. Hasn’t been an acronym that bad in these parts since Rhode Island Junior College.

  108. Dan April 28, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    At least we now have a name to put behind the proposal. But as I pointed out the entire site is owned by several different LLC’s. Is Jag a parent entity for all these? If not what do the other owners say. According to the Secretary of State’s office the owner of City Top Reality (that owns the properties along Point St) is Scott Wolf. The Scott Wolf of Grow Smart RI? Not sure. But if it is, can we get his opinion on this. Has he even been approached by Jag?

    I am all for looking at this site but I’d like to see a little more transparency. Have they approached the Pawsox? Is this going to be a completely private transaction? Does he plan on seeking any relief from the City or the State? If he is just going to sell them the land that the PawSox will build on, we still have pretty much the same deal as we have right now.

  109. Jef Nickerson April 28, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    The City and State records on ownership are not always completely up-to-date, but I do imagine there are pieces of the property as proposed for the stadium that JAG does not own. The buildings along Point Street I believe are all for sale right now (would love to be the seller if the stadium ended up here).

    There was a master plan for the Victory Place site, but it fell apart in the recession.

  110. Runaway Jim April 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    I like both spots for the stadium. Historic buildings aside, the Victory Place location isn’t horrible, but there is the issue of parking. And I know that people on this blog aren’t in favor of parking, but the stadium will not succeed without parking nearby. While there are lots of little lots nearby, they’re spread out across the whole area and probably won’t be enough for the stadium. That said, I wonder if it’s possible to use the land between Hospital St and the 195 off ramp for a parking garage with retail on the ground floor, that might actually be good for a cafe/bar/restaurant that can also serve the hospital folks across the street.

    Other than that, I can get behind a stadium here. The view of the power plant wouldn’t be horrible. It’s probably the prettiest power plant in existence. And it can be built so there is no view of the oil tanks. Lacking the view of the skyline wouldn’t be as nice though (likely a big part of the reason for the riverfront property). However, it’s likely that this area could see a later curfew for concert events as the sound wouldn’t carry over into any residential neighborhoods.

  111. Jef Nickerson April 28, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    I think that parcel next to the highway has been thought of as a garage for some time. It is not a 195 parcel, I’m pretty sure RIDOT owns it.

  112. Peter Brassard April 30, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    The parking thing:,105395?

  113. Michael Leshinsky July 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    We, at Leshinsky Finance hope to be awarded the RFP for the McCoy Study. Keep the work in Rhode Island and be done by a Rhode Islander not an outsider!


  1. WPRI: Major life-sciences complex proposed for 195 land | Greater City Providence - May 20, 2015

    […] results from the highway removal. Regardless of how you feel about them, this proposal, the PawSox stadium, the parking garage at the Garrahy complex, and the student housing proposed at Parcel 28 would […]

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