Grebien: Performing arts center being considered for Ballpark at Slater Mill complex

WHILE THE R.I. SENATE has passed legislation that creates the financing framework for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the House has yet to give an indication that it will vote on the deal to build the Ballpark at Slater Mill complex.
WHILE THE R.I. SENATE has passed legislation that creates the financing framework for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the House has yet to give an indication that it will vote on the deal to build the Ballpark at Slater Mill complex.

PAWTUCKET – There are ongoing discussions to incorporate a Pawtucket Performing Arts Center into the proposed Pawtucket Red Sox Ballpark at Slater Mill, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien announced Thursday.

The intent of the proposal is to create a multi-purpose space that could service theater and performing arts, and act as a gallery in the development area of the ballpark, according to Pawtucket spokeswoman Lauren Greene. Greene also noted that there was potential that the space could somehow be attached to the stadium at some point.

“The Ballpark at Slater Mill continues to draw interest from a variety of businesses and developers, despite the project’s uncertainty at the state level. The ballpark will be a true destination serving as the centerpiece for all types of activities,” stated Grebien. “Pawtucket’s art community is a hallmark of our culture. This is yet another opportunity that Pawtucket can maximize upon.”

The Office of the Mayor noted that, “Morris Nathanson, designer of Pawtucket’s Riverfront Lofts, is working with Janet Marie Smith, a nationally renowned baseball planning and development executive and adviser to the PawSox team, to conceptualize how the arts can be a part of the new ballpark.” It also noted that Howard Abramson, a Pawtucket resident and former media executive, is also working with the city and the team to make the incorporation of a performing arts center at the Ballpark at Slater Mill.

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“Pawtucket and surrounding towns are blessed with a multitude of active, innovative and entertaining performing arts groups, virtually all of which struggle to find and maintain proper venues,” Abramson said in a statement. “With a collaboration between the City and the PawSox, we could create a shared home that would benefit all of these groups and their audiences, namely all of us. The Pawtucket Performing Arts Center at the Ballpark at Slater Mill would be able to take advantage of all the infrastructure that will be created as part of the stadium. The PawSox have already expressed interest in pursuing the creation of this arts center.”

Currently, the Ballpark at Slater Mill plan is in political limbo. The stadium’s proposed use of public-backed funds has drawn criticism from the likes of House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, who has repeatedly insisted the public does not want public funds to support the construction of a new ballpark. The ballpark would be owned by the city of Pawtucket and leased back to the team.

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said he believes that if the PawSox are required to pick up the entire cost of construction that they will leave the state.

Cities such as Worcester, Mass., have expressed interest in luring the PawSox from Rhode Island. Executives of the team have met already with Worcester officials.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.

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