R.I. Senate President: No Fall Session to Consider PawSox Stadium

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The Senate president is refusing to call for a special legislative session in the fall to consider a proposal for a Pawtucket Red Sox stadium in Providence, which would leave the project in limbo until at least January.

The House speaker says lawmakers are close to finalizing an agreement.

Even if a proposal emerges in the next few weeks, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said she wouldn't consider a special session, and she's also not participating in the negotiations.

"At this point, there's not urgency regarding a ballpark," Paiva Weed, a Democrat, said on Thursday.

The full legislature reconvenes in January.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the House would be prepared to come back into session early if a proposal is ready and supported by the public.

Mattiello has been suggesting the possibility of a special session since June, as the legislative session was drawing to a close without a PawSox deal.

Mattiello and state officials, including Gov. Gina Raimondo, have been negotiating behind closed doors with the owners of the Triple-A franchise to come up with a new proposal to build a ballpark on riverfront property owned by the state since the team's original proposal asking for $120 million in state subsidies over 30 years was rejected.

Paiva Weed said she has been purposely recusing herself.

"It is more appropriately, in my opinion, a function of the executive branch," she said.

But Mattiello said it's the constitutional responsibility of the Speaker and the House of Representatives to participate in all matters involving state appropriations.

"The Senate President is free to define her role in any way she deems appropriate," Mattiello said.

In May, Mattiello hired Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist as a consultant to evaluate the proposal. Zimbalist, who is being paid $225 per hour, has consulted for the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball since 2005. The commissioner oversees some areas of the minor leagues.

The team's ownership group has known throughout the negotiation process that the timing would be decided by the legislature and governor, said PawSox spokeswoman Patti Doyle.

"Nevertheless, we remained focused on renegotiating an acceptable agreement with the state, recognizing that the timing of the legislative review is not within our control," Doyle said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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