For now, it’s just a resolution that’s been referred to the Ordinance Committee that would only be a potential alternative for a deal already in place. But it could be huge for the future of Cranston.
The proposal that could change Cranston dramatically is for the Pawtucket Red Sox to consider a Cranston site for their new stadium, being put forth by Councilman Paul Archetto. As it stands now, the PawSox have already proposed their own plan to the state for a new stadium at Slater Mill, where the Apex department store used to be. The stadium would cost around $83 million to build, 45 of which would come from the PawSox ownership group.
Although the deal may go through, Archetto said that he’d heard of a “snag in negotiations” for the Slater Mill site, which would make his resolution more real.
That snag, according to Councilman Michael Favicchio, is in the disclosure of profits by the team to the state, which is holding up the deal financially. Despite this, Favicchio still thinks it’s unlikely for a PawSox stadium to be in Cranston anytime soon.
“I think it’s a longshot,” he said. “I don’t know what the results will be when it’s brought up before committee, but it’s a long shot at best…We typically don’t put money into any type of deal like that, I don’t think we’ve ever done that, actually. It would be a stretch, but we’ll listen to it [at committee] if there’s any viability [to it not being at Slater Mills] at that point in time.”
On Tuesday Larry Lucchino, co-owner and chair of the PawSox, said, “We’re kind of on track now to keeping it in Pawtucket.” He said some other place might be considered if “we’re knocked off the track.”
Despite the doubt that Cranston would even have a chance to bid for a stadium, Councilman Archetto will sponsor the resolution because he believes Cranston should be investing their money in something big like this.
“Cranston is growing, shortly it will be the second largest city in the state of Rhode Island,” Councilman Archetto said. “If we’re going to be second or, ultimately, perhaps largest city in the state, then we need a jewel. Something that puts Cranston on the map.”
That jewel would be a new stadium located off Route 37 in the Phoenix Avenue area of western Cranston, according to Archetto.
The main concern with building a stadium there, which is still a suburban area and isn’t quite as far into western Cranston to be considered rural, is traffic. But Archetto isn’t overly concerned, not only saying that there would certainly be a traffic study done but also that he thinks the area can handle it.
“I think the infrastructure is in place there with 295,” he said. “There are ways for traffic to flow in and out if it’s in that location.”
The other concern for residents of Cranston would be cost. In the current PawSox proposal, Pawtucket would have to invest $15 million in taxpayer funds. Archetto said that the cost for Cranston would be higher if they were to get the stadium at around $25 million. But he believes the financial benefits for the growing city far outweigh that cost.
“If we could draw people from other cities or states then that’s new money for Cranston,” Archetto said. “If people stop at the game and come here, they’re also going to stop at restaurants and gas stations in the city. There will also be permanent jobs attached to the stadium, like security.”
The councilman clearly thinks the project would bring new money and jobs into the city, and he also sees the potential stadium as important to the future of Cranston as a whole.
“If Cranston wants to grow and draw businesses in, we’ve got to look towards the future and out of the box. What, is Cranston going to be a 100,000-person population of houses? If Cranston’s going to grow, we need a jewel and a Mecca for the people of the state.”
The so-called “Mecca” is just theoretical at this point, Archetto admits, as he says that it looks like they’re making headway on the Slater Mill deal and his resolution is just an alternative if that falls through.
According to Mark Schieldrop in Mayor Fung’s office, the mayor was surprised when this resolution was put through because of how far along the Slater Mill deal is, and doesn’t have any involvement with it.
The resolution will be discussed further at the ordinance meeting scheduled for November 16.