Rhode Island's governor and Pawtucket's mayor said Wednesday that it would've been irresponsible to offer the Pawtucket Red Sox a deal similar to the one Worcester made.
Team officials signed a deal Friday that aims to move the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox to Massachusetts. Worcester plans to borrow about $100 million to finance construction of a new stadium.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said in Pawtucket on Wednesday that neither the state nor the city could've afforded to offer that much and it would've been irresponsible to try to compete. They were at a historic mill in the city to talk about how to revitalize Pawtucket now that the team is leaving.
"To compete with Worcester, an offer would have jeopardized our city's future and I would not have done that, just as the state was not willing to do that," Grebien said.
The state and city offered to help the team build a new $83 million stadium in Pawtucket. The PawSox would've been expected to contribute $45 million and the team would've been responsible for any cost overruns.
"The owners, all of whom are multi-millionaires, wanted more from taxpayers and we have a job to protect taxpayers, which we did," Raimondo said.
Raimondo added, "A minor league team does not make Pawtucket. This is a major league city."
The team's departure is a major loss for an old mill town that never fully recovered from the Great Depression in the 1930s. Grebien described the PawSox as a treasured part of the fabric of the community.
"The city lost a very rare opportunity to reinvent itself, to create a destination and attract visitors to our downtown," he said.
The state and city plan to collaborate to figure out alternative uses for McCoy Stadium, the team's current home, and determine what to invest in to develop the city's economy.
Pawtucket is working to buy the site of a former Apex department store, where the new stadium was supposed to go, to redevelop it. The state plans to pay for streetscape improvements for a new commuter rail station on the border between Pawtucket and Central Falls.
The PawSox will continue to play in Pawtucket for the next two years while the stadium in Worcester is built. Grebien still plans to go to the games. When asked if he'd ever throw out the first pitch again, Grebien said that would be a little harder to do.