Woonsocket Call

Stadium study details economic benefits

Report states new PawSox ballpark could raise $130 million in new tax revenue

- By JONATHAN BISSONNETT­E jbissonnet­te@pawtuckett­imes.com

PAWTUCKET – An economic impact study into a new Pawtucket Red Sox ballpark has indicated that a stadium constructe­d on the site of the former Apex would generate a combined $129.8 million, while a ballpark at the nearby Tidewater property would bring in a total of $95.8 million.

The 26-page study, which was co-commission­ed by the city and PawSox and cost $25,000, indicates that the vision is for a 9,500-seat downtown ballpark that would cost about $76 million to construct.

While Brailsford & Dunlavey, the Washington, D.C.-based program management firm tabbed to conduct the analysis, says that both sites will have a “similar impact on ballpark and team operations given their close proximity and therefore will generate similar economic and fiscal benefits to the state,” a stadium on the Apex land would generate roughly $34 million more over 30 years.

According to the report, the Apex site would generate approximat­ely $93.3 million to the state – $37.8 million in state income tax, $33.5 million in sales tax, and $22 million in transient occupancy tax – while the city would garner $36.5 million through $30.9 million in property tax, $3.6 million in transient occupancy tax, and $2 million in food and beverage tax.

The Tidewater parcel, meanwhile, is projected to generate $71.4 million to Rhode Island, with $41.4 million in state income tax, $15.3 million in sales tax, and $14.7 million in transient occupan- cy tax, while Pawtucket would land $24.4 million through $20.5 million in property tax, $2.1 million in transient occupancy tax, and $1.8 million in food and beverage tax.

Both sites are complement­ed by parking and ancillary developmen­t on the riverfront Division Street parcel. The potential program at the Apex site would cost $110.3 million – not including the stadium – and feature a 125,000 square foot hotel, 200 apartment units, and 50,000 square feet of retail space. Developmen­t with a ballpark at Tidewater would include 50,000 square feet of office space and 12,000 square feet of retail space and would cost $51.4 million, excluding the ballpark.

“Ongoing operations of new retail, office space, apartment building, and hotel on the proposed ballpark sties and Division Street parcel will create economic and fiscal benefits to the state and city,” the report states.

B&D’s economic model, the study reads, assumes that demand exists for a new destinatio­n-based entertainm­ent and retail space, office space, and hotel. However, a 200room hotel would likely not include significan­t conference or convention space.

“Hotel revenue and retail sales are the primary drivers of sales tax revenue at the Apex site,” the study indicates.

Mayor Donald R. Grebien in a statement emailed to The Times on Wednesday said that the city’s 2020 downtown vision is already very bright and the B&D report indicates “the potential for a dramatic impact on downtown Pawtucket from an investment in a stadium downtown. The numbers pretty starkly point to the Apex site being superior to Tidewater.”

“Additional­ly, the report highlights significan­t economic developmen­t opportunit­ies in the immediate area coupled with the potential of a ballpark at Slater Mill, would in turn catalyze many of the properties downtown including the Division Street project,” Grebien said. “The ancillary developmen­t around the immediate area has tremendous potential return for both the city of Pawtucket and the state of Rhode Island.”

The PawSox last month unveiled their proposal for a year-round public park inside a downtown ballpark at the Apex site on Main Street. The design concepts call for a replica of Boston’s Fenway Park at the Apex parcel, with the towers of Slater Mill and City Hall visible from over the leftfield wall – which would be designed to mimic Fenway’s renowned Green Monster.

“The addition of the ballpark at Slater Mill along with the additional entertainm­ent activity being a drawn in the downtown, with over 500,000 visitors annually just for baseball and many other uses drawing visitors into downtown to patronize other businesses while visiting the destinatio­n,” Grebien said. He added that a poll of downtown property and business owners indicated that 90 percent believe a downtown stadium would be a “catalyst” for economic developmen­t downtown.

“A ballpark at Slater Mill would be an impressive gateway into Rhode Island on 95 South, and would complement the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park,” the mayor added. “For Pawtucket and Rhode Island, the implicatio­ns are truly a win-win. We can preserve and enhance the affordable, family-friendly entertainm­ent asset that is the Pawtucket Red Sox, while also driving economic revitaliza­tion and investment in our downtown.”

For the purpose of their analysis, B&D relied on a model that assumes a paid attendance of about 597,000 in the ballpark’s first year of operations, 70 scheduled baseball games and 68 openings with about 128,000 attendees for events such as concerts, meetings, and sport- ing events, and that PawSox home game attendance would likely include 44 percent from within the market, 50 percent from out-of-state, and six percent would stay overnight.

Regarding the potential sites in the study and the existing 75-year-old McCoy Stadium, Grebien said that McCoy is “still in our heart and is an important part of the ongoing discussion­s.” However, the previous McCoy Stadium study showed “limited potential for economic developmen­t around the existing facility.”

“The study also identified a number of cost-drivers, with over $30 million needed just to bring the facility up to code moving forward and another $30 million to add amenities to bring the park to a Triple-A standard,” he said. “At the end of the day the investment needs to make sense and show economic viability.”

“The McCoy analysis identified a number of challenges with surroundin­g economic developmen­t potential, which unfortunat­ely would be the easiest way to fund any needed public investment in a facility without using existing tax dollars,” the mayor continued. “I still feel a great sentiment for McCoy. It’s been here my whole life. Heck, it’s been here 75 years, and that’s why my heart is keeping it in the mix.”

“No matter where the investment ultimately makes the most sense for all involved, our focus is on creating an enhanced, multi-use venue that can be home to activity year-round … We remain focused on keeping the PawSox in Pawtucket, protecting taxpayer dollars, and jump starting Pawtucket’s redevelopm­ent,” Grebien added.

 ?? Images courtesy Brailsford & Dunlavey ?? Two possible locations for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium were analyzed for potential economic impact — the site of the former Apex store, at left, and the Tidewater site, pictured at right. The 26-page study declared that a new ballpark on the Apex...
Images courtesy Brailsford & Dunlavey Two possible locations for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium were analyzed for potential economic impact — the site of the former Apex store, at left, and the Tidewater site, pictured at right. The 26-page study declared that a new ballpark on the Apex...

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