By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
The new professional soccer team coming to Pawtucket will be called “Rhode Island F.C.”, which stands for ‘football club’, team co-owner Brett Johnson announced Monday in an event not far from the “Tidewater Landing” stadium now under construction along the banks of the Seekonk River.
Johnson announced the name at the Pawtucket Visitor’s Center, where the team and a more extensive development was first announced nearly three years ago, and three months after a groundbreaking ceremony on the former brownfields site off Taft Street.
The team is destined to be part of the USL Championship league. Its website says there are 28 teams, with four more slated to join the league in 2023, 2024 and 2025.
“Let me be very clear and let me throw the gauntlet down right now. Our club is going to compete for championships from day one. I have been looking forward to this day for years,” Johnson said. He said he intends to announce team managers in the coming weeks, and that “vertical construction” of the stadium is due to begin in “a fortnight”.
Development of the stadium, pegged at $124 million, was imperiled by inflation related cost increases, prompting the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to reconfigure the financing scheme, delaying construction of associated housing and commercial development on the east side of the Seekonk River.
Governor Dan McKee cast a deciding vote in the Commerce Corporation, and the project became an issue in the just-concluded gubernatorial election.
“There’s always going to be skepticism,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, a staunch supporter of the project. “I don’t want to be the politician that says, “just trust me”. I think the people are saying trust and verify. I think clearly, the overwhelming success in Governor McKee’s election, the overwhelming support here, I think people understand and trust us. And now it’s our job.”