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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee said Friday the developer of the Pawtucket soccer stadium is still short at least $10 million in private funds for the project, as he acknowledged for the first time construction at the site has “stalled.”
The comments come two days after Target 12 first reported construction crews were pulling back from the large-scale development project along the Seekonk River in Pawtucket. The stadium is supposed to become home to the minor-league soccer team Rhode Island FC.
But developer Fortuitous Partners has struggled to attain private investing goals, causing state officials to hit pause on the issuance of public bonds to put $27 million toward the stadium. Union leaders said the nearly $30 million in private funds spent on the project so far have largely dried up, leading them and other contractors to move onto other projects.
In May, Fortuitous principal Brett Johnson told The Boston Globe he was about $10 million short of his private funding goal.
When asked Thursday about the construction crews pulling back from the project, McKee told reporters he was unaware that had happened, saying “until I hear that that is a permanent solution, I’m not going to believe it.”
But on Friday, the governor said he’d since talked with Johnson and learned the funding gap hasn’t closed.
“He has to bring in a little additional private equity in the $10 million to $12 million range,” McKee said. He also acknowledged construction “has stalled.”
Fortuitous spokesperson Mike Raia said earlier this week the developer is fully up to date “with all accounts payable,” and expects future funding to fall in line.
“The Fortuitous team continues to work collaboratively with city and state partners and expects to finish the private equity and debt financing in the near term,” he said in a statement.
Grace Voll, spokesperson for Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, said the mayor wouldn’t be available to discuss the stadium situation until next week, but she highlighted that Fortuitous had already spent tens of millions of dollars on the project.
“The developer continues to manage this public/private construction project at their expense and progress has been remarkable, especially given the economic headwinds of the last couple of years,” Voll said in a statement Thursday. “Once the financing closes, additional construction can ramp up. We are all looking forward to soccer at Tidewater Stadium in 2025.”
Rhode Island FC announced in early June the team would play its first season in 2024 at Bryant University rather than in Pawtucket.
McKee remained steadfast Friday in his optimism the project will continue to completion.
“There’s nothing I’m concerned with on a long-term basis,” he said. “The funding will come in.”
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