Rhode Island’s Senate on Tuesday night approved an $83 million deal for a new stadium for the minor-league baseball Pawtucket Red Sox.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, said he would hold hearings. House passage is far less certain.
Five Senate Democrats and four Republicans voted no. The Democrats hold a 64-11 edge in the lower chamber.
Last week the Senate's finance committee approved the deal, which consumed about 30 hours’ worth of public hearings throughout Rhode Island.
Ballclub officials want to replace 75-year-old McCoy Stadium, home to the Class AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. State and city officials fear the team will move to Worcester, Mass.
Team owners would contribute $45 million -- $12 million in cash up front and $33 million through Series A bonds. The state and city would account for $23 million and $15 million through Series B and Series C bonds, respectively.
Opponents have likened the financing component to moral-obligation debt akin to the failed 38 Studios deal that left the state stranded with debt that it backed. 38 Studios, the video-game company owned by former major-league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, received a $75 million loan from Rhode Island but filed for bankruptcy and dissolved in 2012.
Lawmakers approved the measure in the early evening, right before Gov. Gina Raimondo’s State of the State speech. Raimondo, a Democrat seeking re-election, cited the state’s economic gains.
“Rhode Island is stronger than we've been in decades,” said Raimondo, who expects to present her fiscal 2019 budget on Thursday.
“Four years ago, our unemployment rate was the highest in America. Today, it's in-line with the national average.”