May 31, 2017

 

A new ballpark for Pawtucket is an interesting, exciting, and important proposal.  We need to urge all responsible parties to come to the table, at the same time, and work out the details.  Now!

 

The proposal has plenty of great opportunities.  You have to give Mayor Don Grebien and Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman Larry Lucchino credit.  They have been laser-focused on what stadium proposal will make the most sense for Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley.

 

I love strong leadership; we crave strong leadership.  We have a difficult time finding it these days, however.  Mayor Grebien is displaying leadership, character, and thoughtful sensitivity to the city he represents.  He is pushing hard, with all parties, to make the stadium proposal work.  That’s what leaders do.  Grebien should be listened to, and supported, because he is trying to do something extraordinary for the entire state of Rhode Island. 

 

People in our state are skeptical by nature, and we should be.  We have had our share of those who have taken advantage of our state, but we’ve also lost opportunities by being too critical and too cynical. 

 

All business proposals have to be analyzed.  They have to be judged on their own merits.  By all credible accounts, this deal is not only good, it is extraordinary.  It includes the largest private investment the city of Pawtucket has ever seen, and it includes safeguards for the taxpayers.  Plus, it is an investment that more than pays for itself.

 

We need the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate to meet face to face with the Mayor and the leaders of the PawSox.  Put politics aside and do what’s good for Rhode Island. 

 

We have a proposal that could positively change the life of people in America’s first industrial and first post-industrial city.  This is the opportunity the Blackstone Valley has been longing for.  Question:  When was the last time a private business wanted to invest $45 million in Pawtucket?  Answer: never before. 

 

The PawSox are the leading national ambassador of Pawtucket’s name.  Across the country, Pawtucket is synonymous with the Triple A Club of the Boston Red Sox.  We could not buy the publicity that we receive by mentions in 190 major and minor league cities and towns across North America. 

 

A couple of years ago, when we thought they might move to Providence, we cried out, “Stay in Pawtucket!  Commit to Pawtucket.”  Well, thanks to Mayor Grebien’s leadership, they are willing to make that commitment—in dollars and years.  We can secure the PawSox—and affordable family entertainment—for the next 30 years…just as we hoped.

 

We won.  So to now lose a business that is such a part of our identity would be terrible—and foolish.  We would look like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight.

 

Companies fight for the brands they build, and protect them fiercely.  Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.  You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well.”  Mayor Grebien is trying to do hard things well by protecting Pawtucket’s brand with intelligence and leadership.  Please, leaders: meet now.

 

 

 

Robert D. Billington, Ed. D., President, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Inc.

 

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