From the Editors V.30 N.4

by Rick Salamé

published February 27, 2015

The PawSox’s new ownership group wants to relocate the team to Providence and—my regrets to Pawtucket—a baseball stadium would be good for the city. At press time the target site appears to be I-195 land on the west bank of the Providence River. Most of the lot currently lies vacant and the alternative proposal to create a park on the land is underwhelming given how sparsely populated existing parks on the on the east bank of the river tend to be. With empty buildings peppering the southern fringe of downtown it seems like more foot traffic, more activity, and more diversified use of the area is needed—at least until a magical Brown-driven techno-utopic Knowledge District comes into existence. Three cheers for the supply-side...

Brown currently owns two acres of the land in question, which it bought in 2011 for $6 million. The other six acres needed for the stadium are owned by the state. Sources close to the negotiations say that the ownership group—made up of wealthy Rhode Island and Massachusetts businessmen—wants the state to give them the land for free, WPRI reported. To do this, however, would require that the General Assembly repeal language in Title 37 Ch 5 of RI state law, which states that I-195 land is to be sold “at fair market value.” The ownership group has hired former Senate minority leader Robert Goldberg as lobbyist, but they might not need his help: Jim Skeffington, one of the leaders of the ownership group, helped create the public-private partnership for the Providence Place Mall, for which the public is paying the developer $3.56 million per year until 2021. But who needs Skeffy or Goldberg? State politicians are already tripping over themselves trying to outdo each other in enthusiasm for a stadium deal. The ownership group is trying to externalize its costs and dump them on the public balance sheet, but don’t expect them to share any profits once the thing is built. And all our politicians are acting like the owners are doing us a big favor by setting up shop. Apparently we depend on baseball more than baseball depends on our money. Still, when we’re done sucking up to ten rich men I propose we ask why exactly they can’t buy the land like everyone else.