Poll: Rhode Islanders support PawSox stadium if deal pays for itself

A SURVEY COMMISSIONED BY Build Rhode Island found that Rhode Islanders would support a plan, such as the current proposed plan, in which state and local funds would be used and repaid through tax collections and naming rights. / COURTESY PAWTUCKET RED SOX
A SURVEY COMMISSIONED BY Build Rhode Island found that Rhode Islanders would support a plan, such as the current proposed plan, in which state and local funds would be used and repaid through tax collections and naming rights. / COURTESY PAWTUCKET RED SOX

PAWTUCKET – Build Rhode Island released a poll about the Pawtucket Red Sox’s Ballpark at Slater Mill plan conducted by Fleming & Associates of 425 registered Rhode Island voters Monday. BuildRI is a local labor/management construction-sector trade organization.

In the survey, 75 percent of respondents thought that the PawSox and the state government should work together on a plan to keep the team in Rhode Island.

However, respondents disagreed about how the state should go about that process from question to question.

When asked if they would support a plan using taxpayer money to build a new stadium, 21.6 percent said they strongly opposed it, 31.8 percent said they somewhat opposed it, while 28.9 percent somewhat supported it and 11.3 percent strongly supported a taxpayer funded ballpark.

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Despite this, 62 percent of poll respondents thought that a new stadium should continue the PawSox’s public-private partnership (the team’s current home, McCoy Stadium, is public owned).

Not only that, but in another question that explained the currently proposed finances of the Ballpark at Slater Mill plan, including the source of both the state’s and city’s portion of the construction costs, 24.9 percent said they would strongly support the project, 31.3 percent said they would somewhat support the project, 22.8 percent said they would somewhat oppose the project and 17.6 percent said they would strongly oppose the project.

In the last question about the stadium, the poll noted that if the PawSox left the state, it would eliminate the $2 million in state tax revenue it currently provides. The poll asked that if the state were to lose that $2 million because the team would leave Rhode Island, which it says would offset the state bond, would the poll respondents support the plan? It noted that the current revenue exceeds the cost of the state bonds per year by $600,000. To this question, 26.4 percent would strongly support the plan, 31.3 percent would somewhat support it. Nineteen-and-a-half percent would somewhat oppose, while 16.9 percent of respondents would strongly oppose.

It is worth noting that support for the stadium plan grew with every subsequent question, with each question providing more context and information about current plans for financing and structure of a new PawSox stadium deal to keep the team in Pawtucket.

“This survey clearly indicates Rhode Islanders support this ball park if the revenues it generates pays for its construction,” said BuildRI Chairman and CEO of H. Carr & Sons Inc. James L. Carr Jr. in a statement.

“This survey demonstrates that Rhode Islanders favor the current deal on the table to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island. At the very least, the General Assembly should give this Rhode Island institution the courtesy of a vote on this pending deal,” said Michael F. Sabotini, president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and vice chairman of BuildRI, in an accompanying statement to the survey results.

The poll found that 35 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 12.7 as Republican, 50.6 as Independent and 0.9 percent refused to answer. Nearly 16 percent of respondents said that they or a member of their household was a member of a labor union. The margin of error for the poll was +/- 4.75 percent. The poll was conducted from Feb. 5-8.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.