Fiscal ‘tide’ hits Tidewater Landing project?



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Tidewater Landing Stadium update August 2023 Image: Fortuitous Partners

Another major financial domino will fall into place with the Tidewater Landing stadium (Pawtucket, Rhode Island, US) construction project.

‘PBN’ stated that Grace Voll, spokesperson for the Mayor of Pawtucket Donald R. Grebien, confirmed recently that the City will issue the $27 million in public bonds in the Fall, a major piece in the financing plan for the $124 million future home of the USL Championship team Rhode Island FC.

The Tidewater Landing development, on the banks of the Seekonk River in Pawtucket, is a game changer for both the City of Pawtucket and the State of Rhode Island (US). A multiuse stadium will be the anchor of the development which will include housing, restaurants, retail stores, and recreational amenities.

The Rhode Island FC is an upcoming American professional soccer club located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, US. The club is planned to debut in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship in 2024. Their 10,500-capacity home venue – the Tidewater Landing Stadium on the banks of the Seekonk River – is projected to be complete in the Spring of 2024.

The Rhode Island FC will play their inaugural 2024 season at Bryant University’s 4,400-capacity Beirne Stadium in Smithfield, Rhode Island (US) while construction of the stadium at Tidewater Landing is on.

The USL Championship is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation as a Division II league since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (MLS) in the hierarchy. The USL is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, US.

‘PBN’ further stated that the City’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after Fortuitous Partners secured the remaining private funding needed to construct the 10,000-seat waterfront stadium. Additionally, the State will also officially move forward with its end of financing for the stadium.

Arizona (US)-based the Fortuitous Partners is an investment firm that invests in real estate developments and operating businesses, particularly in sports anchored mixed-use real estate projects.

In total, Fortuitous and the Rhode Island FC combined to raise $50 million in private equity for the project. Now, Fortuitous said recently it has signed commitment letters to fund the private debt required in the terms of the public-private partnership with the City and the State.

Voll said the funding between the City, State and the developer must close “simultaneously”, and everyone’s intention to close on the finances is in the Fall. She said all parties are regularly meeting weekly with one another and feels there may be an “official declaration” to issue the bonds but feels that has already occurred.

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation spokesperson Matthew Touchette said the total State public dollars for the project is net to $45.5 million. That amount includes the bonds, $10 million in ReBuild Rhode Island tax credits and $10 million from the City of Pawtucket, he said.

Touchette also said no further vote from the State officials is needed for the bonding to move forward as they have already been approved and will be issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency.

Providence, Rhode Island (US)-based the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the official full-service, economic development organization for the State of Rhode Island, serves as a Government and community resource to help businesses expand in, and relocate to, Rhode Island. A quasi-public agency, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation works with public, private and nonprofit partners to create the conditions for businesses in all sectors to thrive promoting the State’s long-term economic health and prosperity.

Back on March 23rd, the City officials confirmed that there was a delay in issuing $27 million in public bonds – a major piece in the stadium’s financing plan. The City cited at the time economic uncertainty from rising inflation and a potential banking crisis as to why it was hesitant in issuing the bonds.

Voll says the City understood why Fortuitous had difficulty with what had occurred with the State’s economy a few months ago. But, the City, she said, was not willing to burden the taxpayers by issuing the bonds until the developer “held up its end of the bargain”.

Said Voll, “Now, we’re absolutely willing to issue the bonds.”

It will take time for the bonds to close by the Fall. Both Voll and Touchette said the underwriters will have to go through their processes. Touchette said the underwriters have to market the bonds to the bond holders and get the financing commitments from them.

Stated Touchette, “That whole process takes time.”

He also said in an emailed statement recently that the State, City and Fortuitous will “all be closely coordinating to ensure that the taxpayer funds are safeguarded and that no additional State funds will be contributed to the stadium project.”

It is unclear who the private investors are that aided Fortuitous in securing $14.5 million in financing for the project over the last two months. The Fortuitous spokesperson Mike Raia says the developer has declined to release the individual investors’ names, citing privacy – “That’s been the policy from the start. A number of the investors want to remain silent and it’s a private enterprise.”

Fortuitous expects crews to be back on site “in the near future”.

Both Voll and Touchette said they are optimistic and “hopeful” that the stadium will be completed by 2025. Rhode Island FC’s inaugural home schedule next year will be played at the Bryant University.

Concluded Voll, “Where we’re still at currently, we’re confident that the stadium will open in 2025.”

The Bryant University is a private university in Smithfield, Rhode Island (US). It has two colleges, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business, and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

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