Senate Finance Committee issues report, presents revised legislation

STATE HOUSE, Providence – At its eighth meeting on the Ballpark at Slater Mill proposal, the Senate Finance Committee today issued a report on the proposed public-private partnership with the Pawtucket Red Sox and brought forward revised legislation. The committee will not vote on the revised legislation until the new legislative session begins next month.

“The legislation responds to the concerns raised during the committee process. It strengthens what was already a good deal for the city and the state, and provides a mutually beneficial path forward to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket,” said Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley, Jr. (D – Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).

“The committee engaged in a vigorous review of this proposal, and now more than ever I believe it is a good deal for the city and the state. Even under the most conservative estimates, the public revenue generated by the PawSox for the state would fully account for the state’s debt service, meaning the stadium pays for itself. This revised legislation enables the continuation of the partnership that exists today at McCoy Stadium in a new and better located ballpark that will jumpstart development in downtown Pawtucket.

“Throughout this process,” he continued, “the Senate Finance Committee has been committed not only to being thorough, but also to being as open and transparent as possible. In that spirit, the legislation brought forward today was not voted upon, but made available for the public to review prior to our consideration of the bill next month.”

The revised legislation is posted on the General Assembly website and on the web portal established by the committee specific to the committee hearing process, www.PawSoxHearings.com.

The committee has amended the legislation as follows:

2017-S-0989

  • Naming Rights: Based on the fact that the Pawtucket’s redevelopment agency will be the owner of the new ballpark and the determination that Pawtucket will experience a gap between new revenue and its annual debt obligation until sufficient ancillary development has taken place, S-0989 was amended to direct 50 percent of the ballpark naming rights revenue to the City of Pawtucket to assist with its annual debt service payment. This revenue is estimated to be $250,000.

  • Ticket Pricing: Based on the determination that Pawtucket will experience a gap between new revenue and its annual debt obligation until sufficient ancillary development has taken place, S-0989 was amended to reflect the transfer of the premium ticket surcharge revenue from the state to the city. The bill clarifies the definition of a “ticket” and was amended to include language memorializing the team’s commitment not to raise ticket prices for five years.

  • 50K sq. ft. Ancillary Development: The legislation requires any future lease to include a provision that the team develop a minimum of 50,000 sq. ft. of real estate contemporaneously with the construction of the ballpark.

  • Maintenance and Capital Improvement: S-0989 was amended so that any future lease must contain a requirement that the team be responsible for the daily, operational maintenance of the ballpark and its costs. The lease must also explicitly make clear that the state is not responsible for operational maintenance. The lease shall require that the team be responsible for a minimum 50 percent of annual capital expenditures and that the city, state, and team must contribute a minimum of $150,000 in total per year into a capital expenditure fund to finance capital expenditures. The parties will be required to development a multi-year capital improvement plan detailing expected, future capital projects and outlays. No capital expenditure funds shall be used for operational maintenance.

  • Construction Costs: The $12.0 million of equity pledged by team owners is required by the legislation to be the first funds expended towards the construction costs of the new ballpark. In the event that land acquisition and ballpark construction costs come in less than $83.0 million, the savings shall be distributed on a pro-rata basis to the team, city, and state at a rate of 46.5 percent, 32.4 percent, and 21.1 percent respectively. Lastly, any construction cost overruns that exist will be paid by the team.

  • Public Park: The bill memorializes the commitment by the parties of making the new ballpark available as a public park facility. The bill requires the lease to contain a provision directing the city to provide planning and operational assistance on public park aspects of the park. The lease must also specify that the facility will be operated year-round in and around the ballpark, separate and apart from the ballpark’s baseball-related uses, in order to create public recreational, social, and communal benefits.

  • Green Design & RIIB Financing: S-0989 was amended to encourage the use of energy efficient and sustainable design, construction, and operations at the new ballpark. It encourages the use of financing programs available through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, including, to the extent practicable, the State Revolving Funds and the Efficient Buildings Fund, which provide low cost financing for eligible renewable and energy efficiency, stormwater abatement, water conservation, and other sustainable infrastructure projects.

  • Fair Labor Standards Act Compliance: The legislation was amended to affirm the requirement that the team comply with fair labor standards. Employers associated with the business of the ballpark, including the team, would be required to adhere to state and federal Fair Labor Standards practices, including provisions that prevent labor misclassification by incorrectly designating workers as “independent contractors.”

  • Compliance with Public Corporation Debt Management Act: The legislation was amended to better conform to the requirements of the State’s Public Corporation Debt Management Act, or “Kushner Act.” The Budget Office’s fiscal note indicated that the bill as originally written did not meet these requirements. The statute requires that financing leases to which the state is a party must be authorized by the General Assembly through resolution. The resolution must include the maximum possible obligation of the state. The original language only listed the value of the principal to be borrowed and not the cost of issuance and total debt service. The amended language more clearly identifies the maximums as $41.0 million, $26.0 million, and $18.0 million for the Series A, B, and C bonds respectively.

The bill also requires that the bonds must be spent on qualifying purposes within five years of the date of issue, and that binding commitment shall be made to spend at least 10 percent of the proceeds within ten months of issuance. If project proceeds are not spent within five years, then unused proceeds must be used to pay back bonds within 90 days.

  • Lease Conditions: The lease is required to be for 30 years and must be reviewed and approved by the State Properties Commission prior to the issuance of bonds.

2017-S-0990

  • Eminent Domain: Based on the concerns expressed during public testimony and a subsequent determination that the need for this expansion was overstated, S-0990 was amended to eliminate the expansion of eminent domain powers under the Redevelopment Act and to restore the definition of “blighted and substandard” throughout the bill.


Senate Finance Committee to hold State House hearing on PawSox stadium Tuesday

STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee will meet Tuesday to continue its review of legislation to provide public support for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. in Room 313 on the third floor of the State House.

The committee will hear testimony on a resolution (2017-S 0989), introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would authorize the state to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark.

The committee will also hear testimony on a bill (2017-S 0990) introduced by Chairman Conley that would permit redevelopment agencies to finance the construction of projects for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, institutional, public or other purposes contemplated by a redevelopment plan.

This is the seventh of several hearings scheduled on the proposal. There will be no public comment taken at this meeting. It will consist of testimony from — and inquiry of — parties the committee has asked to testify, including the Department of Administration, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and the Department of Revenue, Division of Municipal Finance.

The hearing will be broadcast live on Capitol TV (Cox HD 1013, Cox and Full Channel 15, Verizon Fios 34).

Senate Finance Committee receives PawSox financial, attendance data

STATE HOUSE, Providence – Following repeated requests by Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley, Jr. and members of the Finance Committee, the Pawtucket Red Sox today provided additional financial and attendance data required as part of the vetting process.

“We have been asking for financial and attendance data about the team since before our series of hearings began, and several times over the course of the public hearing process,” said Chairman Conley (D – Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket). “The committee has an obligation to assess the financial strength of the team before entering into a public-private stadium partnership.”

He added: “The information provided today appears to address some of the questions committee members have been asking. However, additional follow-up will be necessary. We look forward to continued cooperation by the team to enable the Committee’s full and transparent vetting of the proposal.”

The submitted documents include minor league ballpark attendance trends, International League attendance data, revenue and expense information, a recent consolidated balance sheet and supporting documentation, letters of good standing from Minor League Baseball and an independent auditor, and a construction cost comparison.

All documents have been uploaded to the committee’s website, www.PawSoxHearings.com. (Here)

The committee’s next hearing, its sixth in the series of hearings, is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 19, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Bello Center Grand Hall at Bryant University, 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield.

The meeting will consist of testimony from parties the committee has asked to testify: The Department of Administration’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the Department of Revenue’s Office of Revenue Analysis. There will also be follow-up testimony by Brailsford and Dunlavey, the consulting firm that conducted an economic impact study on the stadium proposal at the request of the City of Pawtucket and the team.

Public testimony will follow. Due to time constraints associated with the venue, the hearing is limited to four hours. Sign-in for the public comment portion of the hearing will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Bello Center Grand Hall. Public parking will be available at Parking Lot C on the Bryant University campus. Attendees should use the campus main entrance and follow the signs.

Public testimony will be taken in the order that individuals sign up. Speaking time will be allocated equally and will be dependent upon the number of individuals signed up to speak. In recognition of this, the submission of written testimony is encouraged, either at the committee’s designated website (www.pawsoxhearings.com) or in person at the hearing. Those submitting written testimony at the hearing are asked to bring 20 copies for the committee.

The hearing will be streamed live on the General Assembly’s website (rilegislature.gov), and will air on Capitol TV (Cox HD 1013, Cox and Full Channel 15, Verizon Fios 34) the following day.

The seventh hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 24, at 6 p.m. in Room 313 of the State House.

Senate Finance Committee to hold PawSox stadium hearing at Bryant University Thursday

STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee will meet Thursday at Bryant University in Smithfield to continue its review of legislation to provide public support for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, Oct. 19, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Bello Center Grand Hall at Bryant University, 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield.

The committee will hear testimony on a resolution (2017-S 0989), introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would authorize the state to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark.

The committee will also hear testimony on a bill (2017-S 0990) introduced by Chairman Conley that would permit redevelopment agencies to finance the construction of projects for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, institutional, public or other purposes contemplated by a redevelopment plan.

This is the sixth of several hearings scheduled on the proposal. Chairman Conley will begin the meeting by providing a brief overview of the committee’s remaining hearing process.

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the meeting will consist of testimony from parties the committee has asked to testify: The Department of Administration’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the Department of Revenue’s Office of Revenue Analysis. There will also be follow-up testimony by Brailsford and Dunlavey, the consulting firm that conducted an economic impact study on the stadium proposal at the request of the City of Pawtucket and the team.

Public testimony will be taken from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Due to time constraints associated with the venue, the hearing is limited to four hours. Sign-in for the public comment portion of the hearing will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Bello Center Grand Hall. Public parking will be available at Parking Lot C on the Bryant University campus. Attendees should use the campus main entrance and follow the signs.

Public testimony will be taken in the order that individuals sign up. Speaking time will be allocated equally and will be dependent upon the number of individuals signed up to speak. In recognition of this, the submission of written testimony is encouraged, either at the committee’s designated website (www.pawsoxhearings.com) or in person at the hearing. Those submitting written testimony at the hearing are asked to bring 20 copies for the committee.

The hearing will be streamed live on the General Assembly’s website (rilegislature.gov), and will air on Capitol TV (Cox HD 1013, Cox and Full Channel 15, Verizon Fios 34) the following day.

Senate Finance to hold 4th, 5th PawSox stadium hearings at New England Tech, Roger Williams University

STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday at New England Tech and Roger Williams University, respectively, to continue its review of legislation that would provide public support for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Media Presentation Theatre at New England Institute of Technology, 1 New England Tech Blvd. in East Greenwich.

The committee will hear testimony on a resolution (2017-S 0989), introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would authorize the state to enter into lease and financing agreements in connection with a ballpark.

The committee will also hear testimony on a bill (2017-S 0990) introduced by Chairman Conley that would permit redevelopment agencies to finance the construction of projects for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, institutional, public, or other purposes contemplated by a redevelopment plan.

Several officials have been invited to testify, including General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and representatives from the Public Resources Advisory Group, CommerceRI, the Department of Environmental Management, Sage Environmental and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. This will be followed by public comment.

The committee is also scheduled to meet Thursday, Oct. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. in Room 283 at Roger Williams University School of Law, 10 Metacom Ave., in Bristol.

Officials who have been invited to testify include Peregrine Group, LLC, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Authority and the Division of Municipal Finance of the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.

These are the fourth and fifth of several hearings scheduled on the proposal. Chairman Conley will begin each meeting by providing a brief overview of the committee’s remaining hearing process.

Due to time constraints associated with these venues, these hearings are limited to four hours each. Public testimony will be taken in the order that individuals sign up. Speaking time will be allocated equally and will be dependent upon the number of individuals signed up to speak. In recognition of this, the submission of written testimony is encouraged, either at the Committee's designated website (www.pawsoxhearings.com) or in person at the hearing. Those submitting written testimony at the hearing are asked to bring 20 copies for the committee.

Sign-in for public comment at Wednesday’s hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Media Presentation Theatre. Public Parking will be available at the New England Institute of Technology, East Greenwich Campus parking lots, except for posted reserved spaces. Sign-in for the public comment portion of Thursday’s hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Room 283. Public Parking will be available at the north campus parking lots (use north entrance on Metacom Avenue and follow signage).

The hearings will be streamed live on the General Assembly’s website (rilegislature.gov), and will air on Capitol TV (Cox HD 1013, Cox and Full Channel 15, Verizon Fios 34) the following day.