Mayor Donald R. Grebien is winding up for his best pitch to PawSox managing partner Larry Lucchino and team president Charles Steinberg, with whom he'll soon meet, to reposition McCoy Stadium and surrounding land as the Triple-A team's best option going forward.
If the PawSox need space around the stadium, perhaps to build a hotel or other development, Grebien said the nearby city-owned Columbus Avenue Fire Station and Pariseau Field offer extra land. They're among nearly 22 city-owned acres in the vicinity of McCoy.
Plus, Grebien said in an interview Wednesday, the city expects to seek a consultant on sports venues and surrounding economic development to consider ways the McCoy area could be further developed. Grebien expects to hire someone by January.
He is also still asking Lucchino to release the team's study that showed McCoy needed $65 million in upgrades.
Grebien has also spoken with Governor Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, making it clear that Pawtucket believes it's "the best and only option in Rhode Island" for the team.
The new PawSox ownership group's attempt to move the ball club from McCoy to a new stadium in Providence died in September, as financial hurdles stacked up against that vision. The owners' strong push to build along the Providence River veered off course after then-principal owner James J. Skeffington's death in May.
Now, Grebien insists: "It's my job now with my team to get them to refocus all of their energy into Pawtucket."
Although Grebien said McCoy is the best location for the team, the mayor said a few other Pawtucket locations could accommodate a stadium. One discussed as a possible alternate site has been the Apex building at 100 Main St., and surrounding land, an area the city has worked to develop for years.
Asked about the Apex site, Grebien said he hasn't talked with the owner, nor has the city dug into studying any alternative site because its focus remains on McCoy.
If the team were to insist on building a new stadium, Grebien said he'd consider whether there's room to build near McCoy — or elsewhere in the city — as games continue at McCoy during construction. But those, he said, are conversations to have with Lucchino, whom he stressed is "a great businessman" whose forte is building stadiums.
For now, Grebien said all indicators point to the team staying at McCoy through the end of its lease, in January 2021, although the city has no official commitment from the team.
Steinberg said Wednesday he looks forward to meeting with Grebien, whom he met Nov. 10 at the team's news conference announcing Steinberg's new role and other leadership changes. Steinberg did not answer whether the team will stay at McCoy through the end of its lease, nor did he offer a response to Grebien's position on McCoy.