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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee said Thursday he was unaware construction crews were pulling back from the massive soccer stadium construction in Pawtucket, as the developer continues to try and drum up financial support to move the project forward.
Target 12 first reported Wednesday construction crews were moving on from Tidewater Landing to other projects, which labor leaders attributed to a depletion of private financing for the project. On Thursday, McKee said he wasn’t told about the slowdown.
“Until I hear that that is a permanent situation I’m not going to believe it,” McKee said, although he acknowledged he might call developer Fortuitous Partners after the interview.
Cranes and trucks sat unattended Thursday afternoon at the site of the controversial stadium development, which is slated to be home to minor-league soccer team Rhode Island FC. The team announced in June it would play its first season in 2024 at Bryant University in Smithfield, as the Pawtucket stadium wouldn’t be ready in time.
Fortuitous has reported putting nearly $30 million of its own money into the project, as public financing for the project remains in limbo. City and state officials in March hit pause on a plan to issue public bonds to fund construction because Fortuitous hasn’t yet squared away its private financing — a requirement to move the deal forward.
In May, The Boston Globe reported Fortuitous principal Brett Johnson was still $10 million short of his fundraising goal.
Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien and Fortuitous executives were unavailable to speak on camera Thursday. In a statement, Grebien told 12 News the developer continues to manage the project at their expense.
“Progress continues every day on get to a collective closing of the financing for the remainder of the project cost,” Grebien said. “Once the financing closes, additional construction can ramp up. We are all looking forward to soccer at Tidewater Stadium in 2025.”
Fortuitous spokesperson Mike Raia said the developer remains committed to the project.
“In analyzing the work completed at the site to this stage and the amount of private funding already allocated to construction, this is an appropriate time to demobilize certain components of the construction while others continue,” Raia said in a statement.
Despite union leaders saying contractors are pulling back from the project, McKee said construction is ongoing and he’s confident the development will be completed.
“Our state funding will go in when the project is completed like we had originally placed in the budget,” McKee said, although he didn’t provide a timeline for when that might happen.
Mike Holmes of the Carpenters Union Local 330 told Target 12 on Wednesday construction crews are entering into a stage known as “demobilization,” which is typically associated with the ending of a project.
“In this case, there is work to be done, but contractors are already going elsewhere,” he said. “It is incredibly rare to see contractors that have work ahead of them depart a site.”
Without funding in place, it’s unclear when the stadium might be completed.
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