Auditor reviews PawSox finances for proposed stadium deal

MarketsAssociated Press

The Pawtucket Red Sox have stable finances but attendance at games would have to increase for the team to help pay for a proposed new stadium, according to Rhode Island's auditor general.

State lawmakers are considering a bill to allow the state to help the team build an $83 million stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The Senate Finance Committee asked for a financial review of the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

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Auditor General Dennis Hoyle said in a letter dated Monday that the team's ability to finance its share would be "largely dependent" on generating additional revenues from increased attendance and the potential sale of naming rights. He said his impression that the team's financial status is stable based on audited financial statements and recent, unaudited operating data.

The quasi-public Commerce Corp. agreed that the PawSox would need additional cash flow from increased attendance or other new revenue sources, such as naming rights. The agency also said Monday that the payment on the debt appears to be supportable, based on the team's operating assumptions and its anticipated attendance increase.

Hoyle and the Commerce Corp. signed non-disclosure agreements to look at the financial information, but then only discussed general impressions.

The finance committee meets Thursday to issue its report and bring forward revised legislation. The legislation would not be voted on until the legislative session convenes in January.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has said he thinks the deal should be renegotiated to reduce the risk to taxpayers and perhaps require the team or its owners to shoulder more of the cost. The House Finance Committee plans to examine the information from the auditor general and the Commerce Corp. in January.

City leaders in Worcester, Massachusetts, are interested in luring the team there.