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State, Local Leaders Celebrate Topping Off of Soccer Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I.

Mon June 24, 2024 - Northeast Edition
Providence Journal & Providence Business News


The Tidewater Landing sports facility is scheduled to host its first game in 2025.
Rendering courtesy of LaBella, JCJ Architecture
The Tidewater Landing sports facility is scheduled to host its first game in 2025.

The construction of a professional soccer stadium on the banks of the Seekonk River in Pawtucket, R.I., achieved a major goal June 14 as the final piece of structural steel was hoisted into place.

"This is a true milestone," Mayor Donald Grebien said during his remarks before the final beam was lifted by a crane. "This is Pawtucket on the move."

The Tidewater Landing sports facility, which many said would never be built — and it looked like they might be right when global financial challenges mounted in the wake of the COVID pandemic, driving up prices — is scheduled to host its first game in 2025.

The Ocean State's professional soccer team, Rhode Island FC, is playing its inaugural season this year at Bryant University's Beirne Stadium in nearby Smithfield. The team competes in the USL Championship League.

Hundreds of government leaders, team officials, soccer fans and construction workers gathered at the site to watch the final beam installation and to celebrate the milestone, the Providence Journal reported.

"This stadium and the broader [Tidewater Landing] project will transform Pawtucket," predicted Dan Kroeber, a principal in Fortuitous Partners, which is developing the stadium and nearby parcels on both sides of the river.

The ceremonial event, attended by Rhode Island Gov. Daniel J. McKee, was held at the multi-use stadium's 25-acre site next to Interstate 95.

The Providence Journal noted that the stadium is expected to be constructed in time for Rhode Island FC's second season next year but also will include future phases of development on both sides of the river, encompassing hundreds of housing units, a parking garage, retail and restaurants, an event center, a hotel and riverwalks — all connected by a pedestrian bridge.

McKee heralded Fortuitous' investment in the stadium and in the housing development that is expected to follow across the Seekonk River.

"We're going to build the bridge," he promised, adding, "The stadium is poised to really revitalize the city."

While most know Tidewater Landing as the stadium project, with a price tag of at least $124 million, plans also call for 500 apartments in a mix of one- to three-bedroom units, along with commercial spaces, on both sides of the Seekonk south of Division Street.

The stadium is being constructed to seat 10,500 spectators, and besides being home to Rhode Island FC, will host other sporting events, scholastic competitions and double as a concert venue.

The Tidewater Landing project was first announced in 2019 and broke ground in 2022, according to Providence Business News (PBN).

Brett Johnson, co-founder of Fortuitous Partners and chairman of Rhode Island FC noted that "from day one, I have believed in this project. I am so proud of our progress, and I look forward to celebrating more construction milestones in the future."

Public Funding to Pay for Much of Construction

Kroeber and Johnson and their associates raised $50 million in private equity from unnamed sources to finance the stadium and the team. According to the partners, the private investment in Tidewater Landing by Fortuitous represents the largest such investment in any Rhode Island development in more than a century.

However, PBN said that much of the financing for the project has been from local and state governments.

In a June 19 article, the online news source reported that earlier this year, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency sold $54 million in tax-exempt bonds in collaboration with the state to help build the stadium. Those bonds would provide the $27 million the state had pledged for the project, but estimates are that taxpayers will pay $132 million in principal and interest over the next 30 years to repay the bonds, much more than the $59 million that was estimated in 2022.

Additionally, R.I. Commerce Corp. authorized an additional $14 million in tax credits, and the city of Pawtucket provided $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds, on top of a tax treaty that will save the stadium owner up to $37 million in property taxes over 20 years, PBN noted.

"The Tidewater Project is more than just a soccer stadium — it's an economic game-changer for Pawtucket and Rhode Island," McKee continued. "The latest progress is a testament to our strong public-private partnership and I'm grateful for the hard work and perseverance of our leaders. This is another milestone on our way to welcoming more good-paying jobs and revitalizing the riverfront."




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