Pawtucket Lost Their Sox, But They Might Get a New Team to Root For
Out with baseball, in with soccer.
They may have lost their beloved PawSox, but it looks like Pawtucket isn’t giving up hope on having a home team yet. The Rhode Island city has announced a massive $400 million development project that will, in addition to transforming hundreds of thousands of square feet on the waterfront, construct a stadium for a new professional soccer team for Pawtucket. The project, called “Tidewater Landing,” is the largest economic development project in the city’s history.
“Today is an exciting first step towards a $400 million investment in Pawtucket’s future,” Governor Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “This economic development project will establish a professional soccer team from a leading national league here in Rhode Island, revitalize the waterfront and downtown and create more than 3,500 jobs. Most importantly, it will transform this area into a vibrant hub of activity like we haven’t seen in decades.”
Tidewater Landing was borne from a proposal request for the reuse of the PawSox’s McCoy Stadium, which will be empty once the team moves to Worcester in 2021, the Boston Business Journal reports. The project, however, will not include the land where the stadium sits. The chosen developers, Fortuitous Partners, will instead work with three different parcels of land along the waterfront. The city may select a different developer to reuse the McCoy stadium. Fortuitous will privately fund the new stadium, and public investment will focus on everything else, chipping in about 20 percent of the project’s total cost.
The soccer team will compete in the USL Championship, the second division of professional soccer in the U.S., placing them a tier below the MLS’s New England Revolution. About 15 USL teams, including the Hartford Athletic, the New York Red Bulls II, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, will compete in the Eastern Conference’s 2020 season. The Pawtucket stadium is expected to be competed in time for the team to join the league in 2022.
The new soccer stadium is far from the only new perk coming to the Pawtucket waterfront. The project also includes a new riverwalk park and pedestrian bridge, in an attempt to connect the city’s downtown area to the waterfront. Several real estate projects are also in the works, including a new indoor sports complex, market-rate and workforce housing, office space, and a hotel. Overall, it is estimated that the project will create over 2,500 construction jobs and 1,200 jobs once it is completed, per a press release.
The development will hopefully usher in a new era for Pawtucket. The 72,000-person city has been dealt a difficult hand in recent years, from the wooing of the PawSox to the closure of Memorial Hospital to rumors that toy company Hasbro might move its headquarters from the city. An economic boost, a revitalization of the waterfront, and a new team to root for might finally signify that residents’ luck is turning around.
“This $400 million investment in one of Pawtucket’s opportunity zones will create jobs and will be a transformative economic development at the gateway into our state,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien in a press release. “It’s a natural expansion from our beautiful Slater Mill National Park to the city’s underutilized riverfront. The Blackstone Valley is prime with development opportunities. The Fortuitous Project along with the Pawtucket/Central Falls commuter rail stop are game changers.”