“If you build it, they will come.” The memorable line from Field of Dreams actually came true last month, sadly in Worcester rather than Pawtucket. After months of back and forth among the team owners, the governor, and legislators, the negotiations had more in common with the Abbott and Costello classic “Who’s on First?” than common sense and leadership. All the politicians had an agenda…except getting a deal done.
And with that, our beloved hometown heroes traded their Paws for Woo, and bid us adieu.
Did Rhode Island – and Providence in particular – blow it by letting them leave? It’ll be years before we can answer that for sure, but we do know this much: The new owners wanted to be in Providence.
Let us imagine an alternative scenario….
The stadium could have been built on the corner of Eddy and Point Street, where it was originally proposed. It could have been named the IGT Field, the home of the Providence Slots; every time a player hit a home run, the sound of coins dropping into a slot machine tray would have blared through the loud speakers.
The City could have bonded the cost and put in 400 slot machines guaranteeing steady repayment. A stadium with a 24-hour slot parlor? Home run.
And, when it became legalized, a profitable state-run marijuana dispensary could have further reduced our pension liability. The field would be grass, not Astroturf, because you can’t smoke Astroturf!
Centrally located, the stadium would have provided plenty of parking and corporate support. Little league games and high school championships could have been played here. A new soccer team, the Providence Blackjacks, would have been a perfect tenant. Plenty of concerts, too.
In short, a stadium/slots parlor might have put Providence on a very sound financial footing.
Now all that’s left is an abandoned McCoy Stadium.
So, here’s our suggestion. Let’s replace the “Field of Dreams” with a “Field of Schemes.” Let’s repurpose McCoy as a museum to showcase something we’re really good at: Introducing the Rhode Island Political Hall of Shame.
Here you’ll be able to see the Matiello exhibit, which is just past the Cianci Concourse, which of course has a separate admission tax. You’ll be able to learn about How to Steal Bases (and much better stuff). There’ll be tips on How to Grab that Extra Base (or a pension). And no one will want to miss a hands-on exhibition on How Many Pockets can be filled when you execute a “double or triple play”.
Hungry? Try the Ed DiPrete Dumpster Dive with its Walt’s Roast Beef Room or the Judge Bevilacqua Alpine Motel exhibit, where you get a special discount if you bring in your own “side dish”. For early risers, there’s always the Fox in the Hen House breakfast special.
As former nun and Attorney General Arlene Violet said, “RI is one of the most Catholic states in the Union. I guess a lot of our politicians must have been dozing off during the sermons.”
And, McCoy would be the perfect place for this kind of homage. To quote Satchel Paige, “I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”