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East Providence Steps Up For RIFC
Fans worried about where Rhode Island FC may play their upcoming season can breathe a little easier.
Fans worried about where Rhode Island FC may play their upcoming season can breathe a little easier, as ABC6 Rhode Island reported that East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said Thursday that the team would be welcome to play at Pierce Memorial Stadium in East Providence.
“I would love nothing more than to have them here, they want to build their fanbase and this would be a great opportunity for them to build their fanbase right within a community that has a love for the support,” DaSilva said.
The news comes while construction continues at Rhode Island FC’s stadium site at Tidewater Landing in Pawtucket. Pawtucket city officials recently announced they would be holding up $27 million in public bonds due to what they called “uncertain financial conditions,” especially a recent hike in interest rates. This uncertainty has led RIFC to begin to investigate potential temporary homes for RIFC. It is not currently known whether such an arrangement will be necessary, or how long it will last if it is.
Rhode Island has a limited number of sites that meet the team’s requirements. RIFC will need any potential home stadium to have a pitch that meets the USL’s requirements for size, and most possibilities will also require the addition of temporary seating. Pierce Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1939, can fit a full-size soccer pitch and seats up to 6,000 fans, and thus would likely require temporary expansion.
Rhode Island FC — who set the USL record for season ticket deposits sold in their first week of availability — expect to seat 10,500 at their permanent home in Pawtucket. The city however is determined that the team will begin its life there with or without the new stadium.
“While there have been no official discussions of a temporary location for RIFC, the city of Pawtucket will do its best to ensure that they play here in our city,” a spokesperson for Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said.
It’s not clear where in Pawtucket RIFC would be able to play however. The city’s other stadium, McCoy Stadium, the former home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, seats up to 10,031 and has plenty of space for a soccer pitch but Pawtucket voted last November to demolish the stadium in favor of building a new high school. It’s not clear when that demolition will actually occur, however.
Rhode Island FC's potential temporary move to Pierce Memorial Stadium in East Providence provides a glimmer of hope for fans worried about where the team will play in the upcoming season. While the uncertainty surrounding the construction of the team's permanent home in Pawtucket remains, the team and the city are determined to find a solution that ensures RIFC can begin its life in Rhode Island as planned.