Proposed Downtown Pawtucket USL Stadium Moving Forward

Pawtucket Soccer Stadium rendering December 2019

Plans have been unveiled for a proposed downtown Pawtucket stadium housing a USL Championship club and anchoring a $400-million redevelopment plan.

There have been signs linking Pawtucket and the USL for months, the result of a proposal by Brett Johnson of Fortuitous Partners. Johnson, who is also co-governor of USL Championship’s Phoenix Rising FC, submitted a plan to Pawtucket and Rhode Island officials earlier this year that calls for the construction of a downtown soccer-specific venue for a USL club.

Details on the project came to light Monday, when the City of Pawtucket and Rhode Island Commerce Corporation unveiled the plans. The stadium would be constructed on the site of a former National Grid-manufactured gas plant along the Seekonk River and anchor a larger redevelopment initiative that includes 200 apartments across the river and new construction on the Apex property–the same site that was targeted for a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark before the team opted to relocate to Worcester, MA. The Apex site would feature a 200-room hotel, and 200,000 square feet of office space.

The proposal is not final at this point, as property acquisition has to be completed along with plans to back the project with $70-$90 million in public assistance, to be mostly generated through tax increment financing (TIF). City and state officials gave the proposal a strong endorsement on Monday, however, believing that its sports-centric approach to downtown redevelopment could serve as a boost to the economy. More from the Providence Journal:

The plan hinges on approximately $70 million to $90 million in public assistance, most of it from the state through a “tax increment financing” plan that allows the developer to use a portion of new tax revenue generated around the development to pay for construction.

The state will also fund infrastructure such as the pedestrian bridge and public parks. Fortuitous also plans to use federal “opportunity zone” tax breaks to draw investors to the project.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor have been working on a sports-focused development plan for the city’s downtown since the Pawtucket Red Sox announced their decision last year to move to Worcester.

They said Monday that, if the Fortuitous project pans out, it will be a better deal than the proposed PawSox stadium.

Not included in this proposal is the site of McCoy Stadium, which will host the PawSox for a final season in 2020 before the team moves to Worcester. Officials have not decided the next step for the site, which could include either leaving McCoy operational (perhaps for another professional baseball team) or tearing it down to make way for new development.

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