Pawtucket soccer stadium developer says it has finished raising private funds

On hold since spring, Tidewater Landing construction, bond sale can now resume

By: - August 10, 2023 2:28 pm

Construction at the Tidewater Landing site in Pawtucket was halted this spring after funds ran dry. (Photo by Nancy Lavin/Rhode Island Current)

Private financing woes stalling a $124 million soccer stadium along Pawtucket’s riverfront appear to be resolved, with the developer announcing on Wednesday it had secured enough investment money to close the funding gap.

The extra $14.5 million in investments or letters of commitment raised by Fortuitous Partners over the last two months completes the developer’s portion of the project, which is being funded through a private-public partnership with the city and state. The sale of $36 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) for the project authorized by the state economic agency over a year ago had been delayed because the developer hadn’t finished securing private equity. Construction of the 10,000-seat, United Soccer League stadium along the Pawtucket River known as Tidewater Landing also halted this spring after funds ran dry.

Not for much longer. Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, the group in charge of selling the city and state bonds that will be later repaid with revenue from the project, plans to close on the sale this fall, according to Grace Voll, a city spokesperson. Meanwhile, construction is expected to resume “in the near future,” according to Mike Raia, a spokesperson for Fortuitous, although he was unable to provide a specific date.

“The global pressures on development are real, but we have believed in this project from the beginning and have put tens of millions of private investment into the project to get it started,’ Brett Johnson, Fortuitous partner and founder said in a statement. “Now that the private funding has been secured, we are excited to complete the stadium through this public-private partnership with the city and state.”

The Rhode Island FC team still intends to play its inaugural, 2024 season at Bryant University, having been forced to find an alternative to its permanent stadium amid the delays in construction and fundraising. As of Thursday, the club had received more than 4,000 deposits from prospective season ticket holders, Raia said in an email.

The 2025 season will take place at the new Pawtucket stadium, according to Fortuitous’ statement. 

Raia declined to share the names of the additional investors who have committed funds to the project or the letters of commitment promising their money. Combined with existing private equity, Fortuitous and Rhode Island FC have raised $50 million in private funding for the project. The developer has also taken on debt to meet its $80 million funding obligation for the project.

The state has kicked in $14 million in tax credits in addition to the tax-increment financing, plus $10 million in stimulus funds from the city of Pawtucket, for a total of $60 million in public funding. 

Matt Touchette, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Commerce Corp., which authorized the tax credits and TIF funds, said the developer has now met its obligations.

“We’ll all be closely coordinating to ensure that taxpayer funds are safeguarded and that no additional state funds will be contributed to the stadium project,” Touchette said in an email on Wednesday. “It’s an exciting time for Pawtucket and Rhode Island, and we’re optimistic about the transformative potential of this venture.”

The riverfront redevelopment project has been plagued by delays and financial troubles since it was picked through a competitive bidding process in 2019. Later phases of the project, which have not been funded or detailed in a set timeline, call for apartments, offices, commercial and infrastructure improvements along both sides of the Pawtucket River.

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Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is senior reporter covering state politics, energy and environmental issues for the Rhode Island Current.

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