RI Auditor, Commerce Corp. Offer Qualified Support For PawSox Deal

Dec 4, 2017

Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, during a PawSox rally earlier this year.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and state Auditor General Dennis Hoyle have offered qualified support for the debt service obligations of a proposed new stadium in downtown Pawtucket, according to documents released by the state Senate Monday.

Both state Auditor General Dennis Hoyle and Jesse Saglio, a top official at the state Commerce Corporation, point to increased attendance as a key factor for the PawSox to be able to pay the team's debt.

The PawSox contend that a new $73 million stadium, bolstered by $38 million in borrowing by the state and the City of Pawtucket, would enable the Triple A team to draw more fans while offering an economic jolt to Pawtucket. Critics object to the idea of the city and state helping to finance a new home for the team.

In a letter to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Hoyle said his view was based on the team's audited financial statements for part of 2015 and 2016 and an unaudited summary for 2017. Hoyle said he was also able to ask questions of "key team management personnel."

At the same time, Hoyle wrote that his review was limited to materials provided by the PawSox  and that he did not independently validate the information. He said it should not be considered a guarantee or predictor of the team's future economic performance.

Meanwhile, Saglio, managing director/head of investments for the state Commerce Corporation, wrote that based on the team's operating assumptions and the expectation of increased attendance with a new stadium, "a payment obligation appears to be supportable from a cash flow perspective."

Both Hoyle and Saglio said their conclusions were based on confidential information provided by the PawSox.

A revised version of the bill for a PawSox stadium is expected to be unveiled Thursday.