Pawtucket Red Sox President James Skeffington, who championed a plan to move the minor league affiliate to downtown Providence and who was in the middle of working out a deal to build a stadium on state land, has died, the team announced Monday.
The 73-year-old Skeffington died Sunday while jogging in Barrington, where he lived, team spokeswoman Patti Doyle said. His brother, Jack Skeffington, said the cause was a heart attack.
His son, Jim Skeffington Jr., will issue a statement later Monday on the family's behalf, Doyle said.
Skeffington bought the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in February with a group that includes Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino.
They announced a controversial and potentially expensive decision: The team would leave Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium and hoped to build a stadium on riverfront land in downtown Providence. The land is owned by the state and was opened up by the relocation of Interstate 195.
Last month, the team proposed a deal under which they would pay $85 million to build a stadium and do other work on the state's land. But they asked for help from taxpayers to the tune of $120 million over 30 years and wanted to be exempt from real estate taxes.
The plan landed with a thud. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said the plan was not fair to taxpayers, and many lawmakers came out against it.
The team's owners said this month that they're working on a new approach, though they have given no details.
Skeffington in recent days had been visiting community groups and others to talk about his vision.
A spokeswoman for the Boston Red Sox did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he was deeply saddened by the news and called Skeffington a legend who had a hand in nearly every major project in the state for decades. Skeffington had been involved in development projects including the Rhode Island Convention center and the Providence Place Mall.
"It is tragic that he did not live long enough to see his vision for the Pawtucket Red Sox come to fruition, but he left a legacy that will live on for generations to come," Mattiello said in a written statement.