Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said she stands behind the proposed deal for a new PawSox stadium in Pawtucket and disagrees with House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's view that the deal should be renegotiated.
"I've been really consistent on this point," Raimondo said Tuesday, during one of her occasional sit-down meetings with reporters on a range of topics. "I think the PawSox ought to stay in Pawtucket. I think that this has the potential to create jobs in Pawtucket and really revitalize Pawtucket. And I think this deal protects Rhode Island's taxpayers."
In a recent interview with The Providence Journal, Mattiello called for renegotiating the terms of the PawSox proposal. He said more risk should go with the team, rather than taxpayers.
Raimondo said she's open to the General Assembly making changes in the legislation for the PawSox stadium, but she suggested that renegotiating the terms would make the team more likely to leave Rhode Island.
"If the PawSox were to leave, the state loses revenue," she said. "We lose income tax revenue from the players, we lose sales tax revenue, it hurts Pawtucket, so this deal that's before the legislature I think protects taxpayers."
Some opponents contend that if the PawSox left, fans would spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere in Rhode Island. Opponents also object to the proposed use of tens of millions of dollars in public borrowing as part of the stadium plan.
Raimondo defended supporting the stadium proposal without first seeing the profit and loss information now being sought by lawmakers, possibly on a confidential basis.
"We always knew that there would be this public vetting," by lawmakers, "so what my department did was come up with a term sheet that had necessary protection for the taxpayers," she said. "We know now how much we receive every year in income tax revenue, sales tax revenue, from the team and we know that assuming they keep doing what they've been doing every year this is going to be revenue-neutral for the state."
"No," Raimondo said, when asked if the state's economic development agency, the Commerce Corporation, should have had profit-and-loss details when it negotiated the PawSox proposal with the team. "I'm comfortable with what they did."
The Senate Finance Committee indicated last week it would not continue to consider the PawSox proposal unless the team provided details on its profits and losses.
PawSox consultant Guy Dufault said the team is working to fulfill requests for information related to the stadium.