Rhode Island Stadium Game a Loser for Taxpayers

RI State House. Photo by Will Hart.

Editor’s Note: This story was also written by Robert Paquin III.

The storied history of the much-beloved Pawtucket Red Sox, affectionately called the PawSox by locals, has led many Rhode Islanders to support a recent proposal by the team’s new ownership group to build a new stadium in Providence, the state’s capital. But despite the economic advantages of having the PawSox stay in the Ocean State, publicly funded stadiums have traditionally been a poor investment for taxpayers and a boon to wealthy team owners.

Following a dismal 1976 season for the Pawtucket Red Sox, few thought the team would stay in Rhode Island. The franchise was essentially bankrupt, stadium attendance was virtually non-existent, and no one expected the struggling team to ever capture the attention of the fans in the region again.

The once popular Red Sox was on its way out for good until an unlikely hero emerged in new owner Ben Mondor, a Canadian immigrant whose first impression of the team’s 1940s-era McCoy Stadium was famously, “What a dump.”

Mondor stuck beside the team as it struggled with its attendance through the 1980s, but in 1998 everything changed. McCoy Stadium underwent serious and much-needed renovations, and Rhode Islanders responded by filling the stadium unlike anything the team had ever experienced in its history. Throughout the early to mid 2000s, the team routinely finished toward the top of the league in attendance and broke its own attendance record three separate times, spurred on by the exploding popularity of Pawtucket’s Major League Baseball affiliate, the Boston Red Sox.


[Published in the Boston Herald]

RI State House. Photo by Will Hart.