PawSox Chair Lucchino: Vision is for “Public Park” in Pawtucket

Tuesday, April 04, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

Larry Lucchino
Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino told a crowd of over 100 at Slater Mill on Monday that the ball club has a "strong preference" to stay in Pawtucket -- but offered few additional details to attendees.  

Lucchino's remarks came during a forum hosted by Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien along with the Pawtucket Foundation, to discuss Pawtucket’s "20/20 downtown development vision" with local business and property owners to get their input. 

“Pawtucket is experiencing a revitalization and a renewed sense of optimism. The commuter rail is on the horizon, new businesses are moving in, and our existing businesses are growing. Pawtucket is truly evolving,” said Grebien. “Now is Pawtucket’s time, and we want to align the efforts of the public and private sectors to capitalize on the momentum that these exciting projects are generating

Lucchino on Record

Monday's forum saw business and community leaders speak about their vision and needs for Pawtucket, before Lucchino spoke to the crowd.

"We can be taught -- people are aware of the 2015 ill-fated venture to move to Providence that was led by a Providence 'chauvinist' that had a love for Providence that many of you have a love for Pawtucket," said Lucchino, referring to the late Jim Skeffington. 

"We have worked with the city [of Pawtucket} and leaders of the city and have learned...the civic pride, civic possibilities," said Lucchino. " As a result, our very strong preference is to stay home. The Paw Sox belong in Pawtucket."

Lucchino mentioned few particulars, including whether their preference leaned towards staying at McCoy, moving to the Apex location, or looking at other options -- only that the yet to be unveiled PawSox project "fits in beautifully with Grebien's 20/20 vision."

"We've often said it's going to be more than a ballpark," said Lucchino. "The opportunity is present here. A new facility may be a ballpark, but it will be a public park the other 270 days a year. It will be a gathering place for community and open to a variety of multiple uses -- it has to be in a great neighborhood."

  • Winner

    Coalition Radio -- A small group of libertarian activists relentlessly advocated against any public financing for a private venture. Pat Ford, Dave Fisher and Tony Jones leveraged internet radio and social media to pound the project and the costs.

  • Loser

    Speaker Nicholas Mattiello -- The Speaker was all in for the project. He repeatedly voiced his strong support for the project. Some said it was a project for his legacy and others said he supported the project as a result of influence of the ownership group and their lobbyist Bob Goldberg.

    It wasn't long ago that the Speaker said the Providence Stadium would be revenue positive.  In a few short weeks, the project somehow went from supposedly financially advantageous to taxpayers to DOA. 

  • Winner

    GOP -- The Rhode Island Republicans came out against the project early and kept raising questions about the cost and the approval process.  Despite being in the political minority, the Republicans used their thorn-in the-side status to play the spoiler. 

  • Loser

    Old School Top Down PR Strategy -- Renderings, fact finding trips for leaders and listening tours were all the strategies embraced by the ownership team and each came back and burned them. The listening tour had higher attendance at many sites by taxpayers who were opposed to the project -- and the fact they had to write their questions down, and be lectured to in response, did not go over well by opponents.

  • Winner (maybe)

    Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien -- It looked like the Mayor was a loser for sure with his city's most valuable asset moving from Pawtucket just 6 miles away to a gleaming new $100 Million project in Providence. With the Providence Stadium dead, Pawtucket has a window to try and create a proposal that improves McCoy, is financially viable and acceptable to the ownership group.  

    The window is very short, and Grebien will move from the winners' column to the losers' bracket if the PawSox leave RI.

    As the Mayor wrote in a GoLocal MINDSETTER™ piece, "We remain hopeful that the new owners will see the value that Pawtucket has given their brand and that the growth we are experiencing will only strengthen it. We hope they will Join the Evolution here in Pawtucket."

  • Loser

    Jorge Elorza -- The Providence Mayor was unable to put together a deal and a location that worked for taxpayers. There was -- and still may be -- an opportunity to bring hundreds of thousands of new visitors into the city annually at the 195 site.

    Elorza needs to change the present narrative from crime, a decrepit recreation system, and visits to meet with Guatemalan corrupt leaders to where the city needs to be.

  • Winner

    Taxpayers -- A coalition of taxpayer groups and activists scored their most significant political victory to date. This may spark an empowered effort to take on other issues with enthusiasm.

  • Loser

    Public Financing of Stadiums in the US -- The dramatic defeat of the proposed stadium in Providence may cause other cities, counties and states to take a harder look at the economics of public financing of stadiums.  

    There is now a blueprint for how taxpayers and progressives can build a coalition to oppose a professional sports team, organized labor and billionaire ownership interests.

    The PawSox defeat and the Boston Olympics collapse may speak to a broader grassroots movement opposed to the spending on public funds on private projects.



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