Sunday, during a jog, the chief new owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox had a heart attack. Jim Skeffington’s death – may he rest in peace – thrusts his plan to move the PawSox to Providence into deep shadow. The plan was a good one; the deal he proposed to bring it about was not. No doubt the public subsidy was going to evolve in a downwardly direction. But was it? Probably. Enough to make it a good deal for Rhode Island? Hard to say.
It depends on whether Skeffington and his fellow owners considered owning the PawSox to be another opportunity to make a whole lot of money, or an opportunity to “give back” to the state. Skeffington in particular might be expected to have seen the proposal to build a new stadium in a better location for the PawSox in such a light – as a legacy.
What now? Again, who knows? Do Skeffington’s surviving owners have the drive he had to get this done? My take is that if they just want to take the money and run, the vision will fade soon enough. But if their aspirations, after decades of making money, can afford to be more noble, maybe they will try to make the deal with the state and the city that should be made, one that is affordable to the state, its taxpayers and the fans of PawSox baseball.
Although the devil is in the details, I like the look of the proposed new stadium. I think it would not only boost the team’s popularity but would inspire state leaders and the I-195 Commission to embrace architecture that builds upon the competitive strengths of Rhode Island rather than kicking ’em in the shins.
Maybe, after all is said and done, the PawSox will stay in the Bucket. Read former Providence Journal (now New York Timesman) Dan Barry’s piece, “A City Braces for its Ballpark to Go the Way of its Mills,” in the Times on McCoy Stadium, which ran on Feb. 24. Great stuff!