Opponents of PawSox stadium in Providence rally at State House as legislative session ends

Opponents of a new Providence stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox gathered Thursday at the State House as the legislative session comes to a close to tell lawmakers they're opposed to any stadium deal that would require public funding.

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About 100 stadium naysayers showed up for the rally, organized by local groups like Organizing for Pawtucket and the Providence Campaign Against the Stadium Deal. They said the rally's purpose was solidarity.

Lawmakers are not voting on a stadium deal before the session ends, but the House speaker has said they may discuss it during a special session in the fall.

A member of the Providence campaign, Sharon Steele, said they wanted lawmakers to realize "we have a voice and we have a vote."

Steele's group has collected more than 1,000 signatures from Providence residents to petition the city council to enact an ordinance that would prevent a stadium from being built on Interstate 195 land and mandate that any stadium pay property taxes. They plan to present the petition to the city council in a couple of weeks.

"I think our tax dollars could be used for better things," Pawtucket resident Dawn Harfmann said at the rally.

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The new owners of the PawSox, headed by Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, have caused a stir since they announced their intentions to build a stadium in Providence. They're focused on a plot of former I-195 highway land downtown that is slated to become a public park.

Their original stadium proposal, asking for $120 million in state subsidies as well as property tax abatement, received a lukewarm reception at best.

Since then, state lawmakers have been in closed-door meetings with the owners to come up with a new proposal.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Thursday that he doesn't want the stadium deal to cost the state money.

Steele is hoping the delay will give opponents more time to mobilize.