Gina Raimondo Chided Over Pawtucket Red Sox Announcing Move To Worcester
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration is often lauded for its efforts to attract companies to relocate or expand in the Ocean State, but Friday’s news that the state’s only professional baseball team planned to leave for Massachusetts is an election year blow.
The Pawtucket Red Sox, a Triple-A Minor League Baseball franchise, are expected to become the Worcester Red Sox, the team announced Friday in central Massachusetts. A 10,000-seat, $90M stadium is expected to open for the 2021 season and would be part of a greater, 18-acre mixed-use development. The news comes weeks ahead of the Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial primary, and Raimondo is already getting heat from a familiar opponent, the Boston Globe reports.
“Sad Sox fans can only reach one conclusion as they watch their team this year: We need a change,” Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican, said in a prepared statement to the Globe.
Fung is expected to win Rhode Island’s Republican primary race for governor. He previously ran against Raimondo in 2014.
Raimondo had supported an incentive plan to build the team a new stadium and supported a bill earlier this summer that would have enabled an $83M facility to be built near Interstate 95 in Pawtucket. While that bill passed the Senate, the House eliminated bond guarantees from the version it passed, and the team’s owners began looking elsewhere for a new home.
The governor said Friday she shouldn’t get the blame for the team leaving. The state is still hesitant to offer public funds for private development after former Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, received a $75M taxpayer loan in 2010. The company failed to produce a single project and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
The tax incentive antipathy already led to the cancellation of a 2015 plan to build a downtown Providence stadium for the PawSox. That hasn’t stopped Raimondo’s opponents within her own party from blaming her for losing the PawSox.
Former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown, who is running against Raimondo in the Democratic primary, accused the governor of trying to shift blame and spending too much time on fundraising and not enough on keeping the team in Pawtucket.
“We’re losing a cherished institution that has been a big part of life for so many of us,” he said to the Providence Journal.