PAWSOX

Ruggerio: Assembly won’t vote on stadium plan until January

PROVIDENCE — Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has confirmed there will be no Senate session in December to vote on a proposed public-financing deal for construction of a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium. In a brief interview at the State House, Ruggerio said Senate leaders are still waiting for a report from the state’s auditor general on what he learned from his own look at the team’s previously undisclosed finances.

Assuming that report arrives within the next several days, Ruggerio said the Senate Finance Committee will unveil a revised version of the PawSox financing bill next week, and then vote to “hold it for further study,’’ so the public can see it, discuss it and debate it before the General Assembly convenes for its 2018 session on Jan. 2.

Ruggerio said the reworked legislation will be formally introduced on opening day of the session and likely posted for hearing — and a potential vote — by the Senate Finance Committee two days later.

PawSox backers anticipated a vote by the full Senate before the end of the year. But with the new legislative session little more than a month away and the holidays approaching, Ruggerio said there is no reason to rush the legislation. “That’s not what we want to convey,’’ he said. (Another factor: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has said repeatedly the House is not returning before the new session starts to vote on the PawSox legislation.)

He said, however, he wants to tackle the legislation during the first week of the new session out of fairness to the PawSox’s owners, in the event they want to look at alternatives. “I would assume they are looking for alternative sites. I would be ... in the event things don’t go well here.”

Under the current proposal, the team would pay $12 million upfront and the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency would issue a series of bonds to raise $33 million for the team’s portion of stadium construction costs, $23 million for the state’s share and $15 million for the city’s share.

As for the potential changes to the legislation, Ruggerio said, they are still being worked on, but likely to reflect an idea he floated earlier.

Ruggerio wants revenue from selling the stadium’s naming rights to go straight to the City of Pawtucket, not to the Pawtucket Red Sox, as the legislation introduced last spring would allow. As the deal is currently structured: the owners of the Triple-A ball club and city officials have said the team would use $500,000 from naming rights each year, an amount that would increase about 2 percent annually, to help pay off the PawSox’s debt.