Rhode Island shifts some TIF proceeds from city to Pawtucket stadium

Pawtucket Soccer Stadium rendering December 2019

Some proceeds from a TIF district originally set up for infrastructure at a new downtown Pawtucket stadium for a USL Championship team debuting in 2024 will now go to finance the stadium itself, allowing the project to proceed.

The decision to shift spending was approved by the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. on a 6-5 vote. A 10,000-capacity stadium, pitched by developer Fortuitous Partners, anchors the Tidewater Landing development. But since first being introduced, the project budget increased from $284 million to $344 million, leading to a request for the shift in TIF proceeds.

The initial phase (Phase 1) will consist of a mixed-use development of 435 residential units with a 150-space garage, 60,000 square feet of commercial space, 56,750 square feet of retail and restaurant space along with the stadium and its accompanying 750-space parking garage. The stadium will contain a minimum of 7,500 seats and may be designed to accommodate up to 11,000 seats. 

The economics of the development have changed since being proposed before the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in 2020, with opponents saying the shift in spending will save a project tottering on the edge of collapse. From the Valley Breeze:

Under an original agreement, a combined $36.2 million in state and city financing through tax increment financing, or new revenues generated in the area of the stadium, would go toward infrastructure improvements around the stadium rather than the stadium itself.

But with the budget for the stadium rising from $83 million to $124 million due to inflation and cost increases, the public money now shifts to the stadium itself, a change that had critics on the board warning that the city and state could end up with a stadium and nothing around it. Questions Monday centered on whether the stadium on its own could generate the attendance figures needed.

A total of 37 percent of the stadium’s cost, at $44.5 million, will now come through public financing. An additional $10 million in net tax credits will cost the state about $14 million.

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