Pawtucket to issue $27M in bonds for stadium project this fall

Updated at 3:28 p.m.

THE CITY OF PAWTUCKET will issue this fall the $27 million in public bonds to help finance the Tidewater Landing stadium project. / COURTESY FORTUITOUS PARTNERS
THE CITY OF PAWTUCKET will issue this fall the $27 million in public bonds to help finance the Tidewater Landing stadium project. / COURTESY FORTUITOUS PARTNERS

PAWTUCKET – Another major financial domino will fall into place with the Tidewater Landing stadium construction project.

Grace Voll, spokesperson for Mayor Donald R. Grebien, confirmed Thursday to Providence Business News that the city will issue the $27 million in public bonds in the fall, a major piece in the financing plan for the $124 million future home of Rhode Island FC. The city’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after Fortuitous Partners secured the remaining private funding needed to construct the 10,000-seat waterfront stadium. Additionally, the state will also officially move forward with its end of financing for the stadium.

In total, Fortuitous and Rhode Island FC combined to raise $50 million in private equity for the project. Now, Fortuitous said Wednesday it has signed commitment letters to fund the private debt required in the terms of the public-private partnership with the city and state.

Voll told PBN the funding between the city, state and the developer must close “simultaneously,” and everyone’s intention to close on the finances is in the fall. She said all parties are regularly meeting weekly with one another and feels there may be an “official declaration” to issue the bonds but feels that has already occurred.

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R.I. Commerce Corp. spokesperson Matthew Touchette said Thursday the total state public dollars for the project is net to $45.5 million. That amount includes the bonds, $10 million in ReBuild RI tax credits and $10 million from the city of Pawtucket, he said. Touchette also said no further vote from state officials is needed for the bonding to move forward as they have already been approved and will be issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency.

Back on March 23, city officials confirmed to PBN there was a delay in issuing $27 million in public bonds – a major piece in the stadium’s financing plan. The city cited at the time economic uncertainty from rising inflation and a potential banking crisis as to why it was hesitant in issuing the bonds.

Voll says the city understood why Fortuitous had difficulty with what had occurred with the state’s economy a few months ago. But, the city, she said, was not willing to burden the taxpayers by issuing the bonds until the developer “held up its end of the bargain.”

“Now, we’re absolutely willing to issue the bonds,” Voll said.

It will take time for the bonds to close by the fall. Both Voll and Touchette told PBN the underwriters will have to go through their processes. Touchette said the underwriters have to market the bonds to bond holders and get the financing commitments from them.

“That whole process takes time,” Touchette said. He also said in an emailed statement Thursday that the state, city and Fortuitous will “all be closely coordinating to ensure that taxpayer funds are safeguarded and that no additional state funds will be contributed to the stadium project.”

It is unclear who the private investors are that aided Fortuitous in securing $14.5 million in financing for the project over the last two months. Fortuitous spokesperson Mike Raia says the developer has declined to release the individual investors’ names, citing privacy.

“That’s been the policy from the start. A number of the investors want to remain silent and it’s a private enterprise,” Raia told PBN in an email Thursday.

Raia also said there could be more information on a specific construction restart date next week. Currently, he’s saying Fortuitous expects crews to be back on site “in the near future.”

Both Voll and Touchette said they are optimistic and “hopeful” that the stadium will be completed by 2025. Rhode Island FC’s inaugural home schedule next year will be played at Bryant University.

“Where we’re still at currently, we’re confident the stadium will open in 2025,” Voll said.

(UPDATE: 2nd and 5th paragraphs; 5th paragraph includes response from R.I. Commerce Corp. spokesperson Matthew Touchette.)

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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1 COMMENT

  1. State taxpayers should not be put on the hook for this fiasco. If Pawtucket wants this pipe dream, let them pay for it since they are the only ones that will supposedly derive any benefits from it, if there are any.