PawSox owners share confidential financial details with state officials

Updated: 6:26 p.m.

FRONT-ROW SEAT: Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino, at left in the front row, listens during a Senate Finance Committee hearing at the ­University of Rhode Island’s Swan Hall in South Kingstown, during which the team, the public and others provided feedback on the proposed PawSox stadium deal. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
FRONT-ROW SEAT: Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino, at left in the front row, listens during a Senate Finance Committee hearing at the ­University of Rhode Island’s Swan Hall in South Kingstown, during which the team, the public and others provided feedback on the proposed PawSox stadium deal. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – After mounting pressure to share more detailed financial statements, Pawtucket Red Sox owners on Wednesday met with state officials to do so on a confidential basis, according to multiple sources.

The meeting was held between team executives and R.I. Auditor General Dennis E. Hoyle at the request of R.I. Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.

State lawmakers are currently mulling legislation that would allow the use of public money to help fund the construction of a new $83 million baseball stadium in Pawtucket.

Hoyle, who confirmed the meeting took place, declined to share specific details, saying he signed a non-disclosure agreement with the team in order to review “certain financial information.”

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Ruggerio later shared a letter with Providence Business News addressed to Hoyle. He asked the auditor general to determine whether the team “would likely have sufficient operating income and cash flow capacity” to pay for its portion of debt incurred and construction costs.

The meeting comes after weeks of lawmakers calling on the team to share more detailed financial information, including annual income statements showing profit and losses. Hoyle is expected to report his findings to the R.I. General Assembly in coming days.

The team is a privately held entity, and executives have been wary to share such intimate financial details with the public.

Contacted Thursday, the team declined to comment on the nature of the meeting.

Team executives, however, may have felt pressured by public comments made last week by Sen. William J. Conley Jr., D-East Providence.

Conley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has held a series of legislative hearings to vet the proposed legislation. His committee is expected to deliver a report on the deal to the full Senate. Conley last week said his committee would “not move forward” without more financial information from the team, saying it could be provided on a confidential basis.

Conley could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The PawSox currently plays home games at McCoy Stadium, which was built in the 1940s and is in need of repair. The team’s ownership group, led by chairman Larry Lucchino, announced plans to build a new stadium after buying the team from the Mondor family in 2015.

The ownership team has made it clear it wants public funding to help pay for the new stadium – which would be owned by Pawtucket – and has indicated it will leave the city and likely the state without financial support. The team has offered to pay a greater share of the project than any other public-private deal in the history of the league, according to league officials.

The team is proposing to build a new stadium in place of the Apex Department Store in Pawtucket, roughly a mile from McCoy. The $83 million cost – paid for mostly with bonds – would be spread between the state, the city and the team. All construction overrun costs would be paid for by the team.

State taxpayers would bond for $23 million, city taxpayers would bond for $15 million and the PawSox owners would finance the rest with a mix of cash – $12 million – and debt – $33 million in bonds.

The bonds are subject to legislative approval.

The deal has become politically charged, and state leaders disagree about how to move forward. House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello last week said he’s uncomfortable with certain aspects of the deal.

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, meanwhile, calls it a good deal.

­Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Sherman@PBN.com, or follow him on Twitter @Eli_Sherman.