A poll of 425 registered voters, commissioned by the construction trades group BuildRI, found that just over 70 percent of respondents think it's important to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island. But when asked whether taxpayer money should be used to build the team's proposed new ballpark, a little more than half, or 53.4 percent, expressed reservations.
At least until survey-takers told respondents that of the expected $83 million cost of the ballpark, the team would pay for $45 million plus any cost overruns. Questioners also said that the state share of $23 million and the city share of $15 million would be offset by tax collections and other revenue.
After hearing that information, support for the ballpark flipped. A little more than half of respondents, or 56.2 percent, now said they support the stadium.
BuildRI, which paid for the survey and lobbies on behalf of construction companies and unions, said the results show there is public support for the stadium deal.
"This survey clearly indicates that Rhode Islanders support this ball park (sic) if the revenues it generates pays for its construction," said James Carr, CEO of H. Carr & Sons, Inc. and the chairman of BuildRI. "With this, I believe the legislature should approve the current proposal."
Rhode Island's Senate has already passed legislation approving the stadium deal, but the agreement appears stalled in the House, where Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has expressed doubt about public support for devoting taxpayer funds to help build the new ballpark.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.75 percent, was conducted by Fleming and Associates, a respected polling firm, between February 5th and February 8th of this year.