Supporters of Tidewater Landing football stadium pitch their vision of groundbreaking

A GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY was held Friday in front of the football stadium, part of the Tidewater Landing project, which will occupy fallow land along the Seekonk River. /PBN PHOTO/NANCY LAVIN

PAWTUCKET – Many promises were made as government officials and developers sold their vision for the Pawtucket football stadium project at a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.

Indeed, descriptions like “flagship location,” “incomparable asset,” and Pawtucket’s “community living room” punctuated comments from state and city leaders, developer Fortuitous Partners and a United Soccer League representative. The sales pitch comes amid lingering concerns about the Tidewater Landing project, including the public money used to pay for it.

A reworked financing plan that shifts nearly all already-approved government and city bonds to the football stadium, leaving little to pay for associated housing, retail and public infrastructure, was narrowly approved by RI Commerce Corp. last month, with Gov. Daniel J. McKee casts the casting vote.

Standing in front of the expanse of sand and gravel planned to house a United Soccer League team, with white lines lining the field, McKee offered a passionate rebuttal to those urging the state to implement the changes to the a financing plan.

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A LONG VACANCY SITE along the Seekonk River in Pawtucket is slated to become a 10,000-seat United Soccer League stadium as part of the Tidewater Landing Project. /PBN PHOTO/NANCY LAVIN

“This is the shot in the arm Pawtucket needs,” he said. “I will not be the governor who turns his back on the city of Pawtucket.”

Brett Johnson, founder of Fortuitous Partners, also sought to allay concerns that the reworked financing deal would leave the state with only a stadium and no guarantees that the other facilities will be built.

“Let’s be very clear about this, this is so much more than football,” he said.

While the flagship 10,000-seat stadium is first in line for construction, targeting an opening in 2024, the project also requires more than 500 homes, plus retail, offices and parking, and a pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides. of the river connects . Increasing the number of homes – initially planned to build 435 units – was one of the changes made to the amended financing plan, which talked about designating some of them as affordable.

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THE TIDEWATER LANDING project includes a football stadium, plus housing, commercial space and public infrastructure on either side of the Seekonk River. / THANKS TO HAPPY PARTNERS

Officials on Friday referred to “mixed-income housing” in the project. Exactly how many units will be income-limited and under what definition, however, is still unclear, with project partners saying they’re waiting to see what government funding is available before determining those specifics.

Likewise, proponents praised the “thousands” of jobs the project will create. But most of those jobs and associated economic development come from the non-stadium components, according to economic analysis of the entire project versus just the stadium commissioned by RI Commerce.

The project may not pay for itself, according to an analysis by WPRI-TV CBS 12 that compares how much revenue the stadium will generate in its first year versus the debt the city and state will have to pay. And that’s assuming the $124 million stadium price tag doesn’t go up any further, after rising nearly 50% due to inflation and supply chain issues. The entire project is currently pegged at $344 million — up from $284 million — although project partners previously said they are still unsure of cost estimates and timeline for the project based on the latest changes.

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Fortuitous plans to unveil a team name, crest and colors “very soon,” Johnson said.

The Pawtucket City Council is also expected to consider additional tax-raising funding at a meeting later this month using real estate tax revenue from the stadium, according to administration director Dylan Zelazo.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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