TAMPA, Fla. – The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board of Directors on Friday approved a financing plan for the Pawtucket Tidewater Landing development project, the centerpiece of which is set to be a new soccer-specific stadium which will become the future home of a USL Championship club.
The public investment will be centered on public infrastructure improvements and not on the stadium itself, which will be privately financed. The venue will be a minimum 7,500-seat capacity but may be designed to accommodate up to 11,000 seats. The investment is expected to more than pay for itself and is slated to be the largest economic development project in Pawtucket’s history, with the overall $284M project being developed by Fortuitous Partners set to take place across 25 acres on six parcels on both sides of the Seekonk River. The project was approved by the Commerce Corporation Investment Committee on Thursday.
“The developments in the City of Pawtucket are something to be proud of,” said USL COO & Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis. “The impact Tidewater Landing will have on the area both through the stadium and development project will be great, and we look forward to seeing continued progress and thank the Commerce Corporation Investment Committee for their hard work.”
“Today's announcement brings us one step closer to a near future where jobs, commercial activity, community and recreation come together to reinvigorate downtown Pawtucket,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo, who has been tapped to become President Joe Biden’s Commerce Secretary. "This land, which sat underdeveloped and underutilized for decades, will now serve as a catalyst for economic activity throughout Rhode Island.”
“On behalf of everyone at Fortuitous Partners, I want to express our thanks to Governor Raimondo, incoming Governor McKee, Mayor Grebien and his team, and Secretary Pryor and Commerce RI for their support and the incredible amount of hard work that has culminated into making Tidewater Landing a reality,” said Brett Johnson, founder of Fortuitous Partners, leaders of the Tidewater Landing development project. “We are excited for this unique, sports-anchored live, work, play community and the launch of professional soccer at Tidewater Landing, to help transform Blackstone Valley and the City of Pawtucket and to provide an added source of pride for the great State of Rhode Island.
“With this exceptional milestone support from the City and State, we will break ground later this year, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of positive social and economic impact, and we cannot wait to welcome Rhode Islanders to our inaugural home game in 2023. Thank you to all for your support and faith in this project and we are honored and grateful to move to this exciting next stage.”
Friday’s approval arrives in the same week that saw Pro Iowa unveil renderings of a proposed soccer-specific venue in Des Moines, Iowa that would become the home to a USL Championship club in future years. Pro Iowa also announced a new initiative in partnership with Krause+, the real estate development arm of Krause Group, and the City of Des Moines with the aim of realizing a 65-acre, $535 million revitalization of areas in Downtown Des Moines.
The projects in Pawtucket and Des Moines are among a handful of new stadium projects currently in the planning stages across the USL Championship and USL League One. The construction of a Stadium & Cultural Center that would become home to the Championship’s New Mexico United is currently under discussion in Albuquerque, N.M., while OKC Energy FC is set to develop a new home venue in the coming years as part of the city’s MAPS4 initiative, which was approved in December 2019. League One’s South Georgia Tormenta FC, meanwhile, is currently constructing a new soccer-specific stadium and mixed-use project that is scheduled to open for the 2022 season.
Those new facilities will join a collection of current venues that have been either recently opened or are nearing completion in both leagues. The past year saw the opening of Louisville City FC’s new 15,000-capacity Lynn Family Stadium in the Butchertown district of the city, and Chattanooga Red Wolves SC’s CHI Memorial Stadium, where surrounding development of housing, retail and office space has continued throughout this offseason.
Three new venues are also set to open this season in the Championship. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s new 8,000-seat downtown home Weidner Field, part of the broader City for Champions initiative that will see an investment of $120.5 million into new downtown facilities and amenities is set to open this spring, while the Charlotte Independence will move into Memorial Stadium after a $40 million investment modernized the historic venue for year-round use in the community. Phoenix Rising FC will also open the doors on a new 10,000-seat stadium at Wild Horse Pass within the Gila River Indian Community.
The Tidewater site and the Division Street site and will be developed across two phases. The project will support more than 2,000 direct and indirect construction jobs and 940 direct and indirect ongoing jobs. The initial phase (Phase 1) will consist of a mixed-use development of 435 residential units with a 150-space garage, 60,000 square feet of commercial space, 56,750 square feet of retail and restaurant space along with the stadium and its accompanying 750-space parking garage.
Phase 1 will also involve infrastructure and public space improvements such as utility and stormwater improvements, roadway and streetscape improvements, off-site infrastructure improvements, surface parking, public plaza spaces, and the development of 4,000+ linear feet of riverwalk and pedestrian bridge. Phase 2 will likely consist of an indoor entertainment and event venue, as well as a hotel.
“Today is an exciting day for the future of the City of Pawtucket, Blackstone Valley and all of Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island Lt. Governor Dan McKee. “This project puts us on the path to spark historic economic activity and revitalize downtown Pawtucket and its riverfront. I thank Mayor Don Grebien, our state and local leaders, the Fortuitous team and everyone who championed this project to help unleash the economic and recreational potential of downtown Pawtucket. This is only just the beginning.”