PROVIDENCE — Governor Dan McKee’s administration said Friday that there has been progress this week in limiting “state taxpayer exposure” to cost overruns associated with the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project in Pawtucket.
According to a statement from the governor’s spokesman, Matt Sheaff, the state Commerce Corporation Board will hold a meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday to “update Board members on that progress and for the Board to further consider investment in the project.” The city and the developer had asked the state to fill a $30 million gap in the project.
“We will continue dialogue with the parties between now and then, aiming for strong taxpayer protections and a sound agreement,” Sheaff added.
In a statement late Friday, stadium developer Brett Johnson described the contours of the updated proposal: The funding gap would be addressed by $20 million financed by the state and $10 million by the city.
It’s not clear how much of the state’s and city’s share of that combined $30 million would actually be additional funding, versus money moved from one portion of a complex and long-term project to another.
Johnson’s Fortuitous Partners also said it agreed to pay additional property taxes to the city as part of the deal, and to enter a profit-sharing agreement with the city and state, which Johnson described as “almost unprecedented in the United States.”
“We look forward to continuing to act in good faith, discuss the proposal with the Commerce Board on Tuesday, and ultimately receive a vote to continue the progress and make Tidewater Landing a reality for the residents of the City of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island,” Johnson said.
In response to that response, Sheaff said: “As I said this morning, there is progress being made in moving the Tidewater Project forward. However, we are still in active conversations with the parties to ensure that strong tax payer protections are in place and that the agreement is sound.”
The potential breakthrough comes after the City of Pawtucket and the developers of the project asked the state to increase the public funding of the project by $30 million, citing cost inflation. Work on the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium project is already underway, but the developer says that supply chain issues and inflation are driving the costs of raw materials and borrowing higher.
The first phase of the project includes the stadium as well as commercial, retail, and housing space. The cost of the stadium alone recently jumped from about $83 million to $124 million.
The developer is putting in $25 million more in private equity. The original financing announced in February 2021 was said to include about $46 million in public financing between the city and the state. That included about $36 million in tax-increment financing, where the government borrows money to pay for a project and then repays it through tax revenue that the project brings in.
The city and the developer have requested that the Commerce Corporation Board, which McKee chairs, add another $30 million in tax-increment financing through the state.
Backers of the project have been pressing the state Commerce Corporation to act. Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos issued a statement Friday that fell short of criticizing the governor, but still showed evidence of daylight emerging between the two.
“Pawtucket already lost the PawSox,” Matos said in a series of tweets. “Neither the city nor the state can afford to watch another developer and another team walk away before they even get here.”
Pawtucket already lost the PawSox. Neither the city nor the state can afford to watch another developer and another team walk away before they even get here. 🧵1/— Lt. Governor Sabina Matos (@LGSabinaMatos) June 10, 2022
This story has been updated with information from the developer and the state.