Loss of Benny’s may aid push to save PawSox

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com BREN­DAN McGAIR Sports Writer

PROV­I­DENCE – Los­ing an Ocean State stal­wart such as Benny’s has been tough news to digest.

With Rhode Is­land’s Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee hold­ing hear­ings at the State­house on Thurs­day night on the pro­posal to build a new PawSox ball­park in down­town Paw­tucket, last week’s an­nounce­ment that the 93-year-old South­ern New Eng­land depart­ment store chain plans to close was still top of mind. Some sup­port­ers of the ball­park plan be­lieve crit­ics of the deal might be will­ing to re­con­sider their stance.

“I feel sad­ness and nos­tal­gia about Benny’s clos­ing, but it’s also ex­po­nen­tial as it re­lates to the PawSox,” said State Se­na­tor Donna Nes­sel­bush, D-Paw­tucket. “Just like Rhode Is­lan­ders loved Benny’s, the PawSox are also a Rhode Is­land icon. We need to look at the de­tails of the pro­posal, but let’s get it so that it’s a win­win for every­body so that we can build a sta­dium for the PawSox to stay in Paw­tucket.”

“We’re talk­ing about two iconic busi­nesses. One de­cided to close, but one is look­ing to the fu­ture and want­ing to be more of an iconic part of that fu­ture,” said John Gregory, vet­eran CEO of the North­ern Rhode Is­land Cham­ber. “Granted the PawSox haven’t been around as long as Benny’s, but some­thing like Benny’s was be­yond the state’s con­trol. This is some­thing that we can con­trol.”

Watch­ing the PawSox pack up and leave Paw­tucket would prove yet an­other crip­pling blow for a state that lately seems be say­ing good­bye to long­stand­ing en­ti­ties such as Benny’s on a far too fre­quent ba­sis.

“I’m hope­ful that all the fac­tors that are go­ing around will con­trib­ute to this cause. We’re al­ways mis­er­able af­ter we lose some­thing, but we don’t fight to keep it,” said Paw­tucket mayor Don­ald Gre­bien. “This is one we need to fight to keep. It means so much to us. We have a chance to keep Triple-A base­ball in the city and we’re go­ing to do it.”

Judg­ing by Thurs­day’s strong turnout by the la­bor work­ers, city may­ors, lo­cal busi­ness own­ers and of­fi­cials from Paw­tucket or­ga­ni­za­tions, the fu­ture of TripleA base­ball in the Ocean State is a fight worth un­der­tak­ing.

“You don’t want to lose an­other piece of Rhode Is­land, which is what the PawSox are,” said Ti­mothy Byrne, busi­ness man­ager for Lo­cal 51. “We have to stem the tide of jobs leav­ing this state. That’s what cre­ated the mess we’re in now. There’s a proven track record for this busi­ness and I think it’s a great idea.”

The chance to save Benny’s has come and gone. As PawSox chair­man Mike Tam­burro noted, the opportunity to en­sure that an­other one of the state’s unique fea­tures doesn’t suf­fer a sim­i­lar fate is at hand.

“We as a state need to be proud of the in­sti­tu­tions we cher­ish and we need to build them up,” stated Tam­burro, speak­ing as chants of “Save our Sox” echoed through­out the State­house dur­ing a rally or­ga­nized by the Rhode Is­land Build­ing Trades and AFL-CIO prior to Thurs­day’s Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee hear­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.