1997-1998 indexDistributed September 24, 1997
Public Opinion Survey
RI voters see stadium as national attraction, worry about long-term debt
A survey of 406 Rhode Island voters conducted Sept. 20-22, 1997, gives Gov. Lincoln Almond and Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci mixed marks for their handling of the stadium and finds an overwhelming majority of voters want a public referendum on the project.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Rhode Island voters are divided in their views on the proposed construction of a new stadium near downtown Providence designed to bring the New England Patriots to Rhode Island, according to a recent statewide survey. Two-thirds of respondents believe the national media exposure accompanying a major-league sports franchise will make the state more attractive to people outside Rhode Island, but a large number is also concerned about the impact of a stadium on traffic and about the state's long-term debt, and believe there are more important priorities than a stadium.
The survey was conducted Sept. 20-22, 1997, at Brown University by Darrell M. West, professor of political science and director of the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory; Thomas J. Anton, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions; and Jack Combs, the Center's research administrator. It was based on a statewide random sample of 406 registered voters in Rhode Island and had an overall margin of error of about plus or minus five percentage points.
Voters in Rhode Island are almost evenly split in their feelings about the proposed downtown stadium. When asked if they favor construction of this new stadium, 41 percent favor the stadium, 47 percent oppose it, and 12 percent are unsure. Sentiment is more negative when voters are asked their opinion of a stadium that would require state revenue bonds of $80 million to $120 million, to be repaid with tax revenues generated by the stadium. Fifty-seven percent oppose such a stadium, 32 percent favor it, and 11 percent are undecided.
These numbers are more positive than public sentiment on the Providence Place mall early in that project. A Brown University survey conducted in February 1994 found that 69 percent opposed and 20 percent favored a new shopping mall if it required a public investment of as much as $100 million.
There are substantial differences in public preferences about the proposed stadium based on geography, sex, age and party identification. The area least supportive of the agreement was Newport (23 percent), while the one most in favor of the project was Blackstone Valley (39 percent). There is a gender gap on the stadium with men being more in favor (36 percent) than women (26 percent). Senior citizens are much less supportive of the stadium than young adults. In terms of party affiliation, Democrats (38 percent) are most supportive, followed by Republicans (36 percent) and Independents (29 percent).Percentage of votors favoring the proposed stadium
BY LOCATION BY GENDER BY AGE Blackstone Valley 39 Male 36 18-24 46 West Bay 38 Female 26 25-34 48 Providence 31 35-44 43 Western RI 29 BY PARTY 45-54 38 South County 28 Democrat 38 55-64 25 East Bay 27 Republican 36 65+ 13 Newport 23 Independent 29
Sixty-nine percent believe that the national media exposure that comes from having a major-league sports franchise will make the state more attractive to people outside Rhode Island. Thirty-eight percent think that having a major-league sports franchise in the state would make them feel proud to be a Rhode Islander. Fifty-seven percent say the new stadium would benefit the Rhode Island economy a lot or some. Forty-eight percent believe having a major-league sports franchise will make people feel better about the state.
However, 66 percent believe that the public investment should be devoted to other purposes. Three-quarters worry about the stadium's impact on Route 95 traffic and on the state's long-term debt. An overwhelming majority (85 percent) think the proposal should be subject to voter approval in a referendum. Sixty-six percent feel the proposal should be subject to approval by the General Assembly.
Researchers asked people in the state which particular stadium aspects should be publicly financed through state revenue bonds. Aspects viewed most positively were reimbursing Providence for fire and safety protection (44 percent), building highway ramps (39 percent) and acquiring land for the stadium (32 percent). There was little support (12 percent) for publicly financing luxury skyboxes or a hotel and/or sports museum.Support for aspects of the project
Providence reimbursement for fire and safety protection 44 Highway ramps 39 Land acquisition 32 Stadium parking 30 Some of stadium 29 Building demolition 25 Hotel and/or sports museum 18 Luxury skyboxes 12
Respondents give mixed marks to Gov. Lincoln Almond and Mayor Vincent Cianci for their respective handling of the stadium. Forty percent say Almond's handling of the issue has been excellent or good, 28 percent think it has been only fair, and 20 percent believe it has been poor. Forty-three percent of respondents rate Cianci's job on the stadium as excellent or good, 23 percent say only fair, and 18 percent say poor.
Almond's overall job performance is higher than in last June's survey. Forty-four percent give him excellent or good ratings, 33 percent rate him only fair, 17 percent rate him poor, and 6 percent have no opinion. In June, 40 percent felt his performance had been excellent or good, 35 percent believed it has been only fair, 20 percent rate him poor, and 5 percent had no opinion. Newly appointed Lt. Gov. Bernard Jackvony remains unknown to many Rhode Island voters. As in the previous survey, 20 percent feel he is doing an excellent or good job, 16 percent rate him only fair, 2 percent give him poor marks, and 62 percent were undecided in their opinions.
Fifty-two percent believe Attorney General Jeff Pine is doing an excellent or good job, up from 50 percent in June. Forty-five percent feel Secretary of State Jim Langevin's performance has been excellent or good, unchanged from June. Fifty-nine percent believe Treasurer Nancy Mayer's performance has been excellent or good, also unchanged.
Excellent/Good Only Fair Poor Unsure Almond 44 33 17 6 Jackvony 20 16 2 62 Pine 52 25 10 13 Langevin 45 18 1 36 Mayer 59 16 4 21 Harwood 21 25 13 41 Kelly 22 23 10 45
Regarding federal officials, 52 percent believe President Bill Clinton is doing an excellent or good job (up from 46 percent). These numbers compare to 53 percent for Sen. John Chafee (up from 50 percent), 53 percent for Sen. Jack Reed (up from 47 percent), 44 percent for Rep. Patrick Kennedy (down from 47 percent), and 34 percent for Rep. Robert Weygand (down from 35 percent in June).
Excellent/Good Only Fair Poor Unsure Clinton 52 35 10 3 Chafee 53 29 8 10 Reed 53 25 5 17 Kennedy 44 28 15 13 Weygand 34 26 5 35
A majority of voters (59 percent) believe the state is headed in the right direction (up from 52 percent in June), while 32 percent think it is off on the wrong track. The Index of Consumer Sentiment for Rhode Island was at 91.6 in September, up sharply from the last reading of 87.1 in June. The September figure is the highest reading the state has had since 1992:
February 1997 87.0 September 1994 82.7 September 1996 82.3 July 1994 80.1 June 1996 78.5 February 1994 81.0 February 1996 74.3 September 1993 74.4 September 1995 73.9 July 1993 69.8 June 1995 68.8 February 1993 76.0 February 1995 81.4 September 1992 68.3 June 1992 76.0
For more information, contact Darrell M. West at (401) 863-1163.
We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are: 40% better off, 31% worse off financially than you were a year ago, 29% don't know or no answer
Now looking ahead--do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be: 27% better off financially, 10% worse off, 55% just about the same as now, 8% don't know or no answer
Now turning to business conditions in the state as a whole - do you think that during the next twelve months we'll have: 49% good times financially, 24% bad times, 27% don't know or no answer
Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely - that in the state as a whole: 41% we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, 36% that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what, 23% don't know or no answer
About the big things people buy for their homes - such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a: 64% good, 15% bad time for people to buy major household items, 21% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Bill Clinton is doing as president? 12% excellent, 40% good, 35% only fair, 10% poor, 3% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job John Chafee is doing as U.S. Senator? 11% excellent, 42% good, 29% only fair, 8% poor, 10% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. Senator? 12% excellent, 41% good, 25% only fair, 5% poor, 17% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. Representative? 10% excellent, 34% good, 28% only fair, 15% poor, 13% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Robert Weygand is doing as U.S. Representative? 4% excellent, 30% good, 26% only fair, 5% poor, 35% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Lincoln Almond is doing as governor? 6% excellent, 38% good, 33% only fair, 17% poor, 6% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Bernard Jackvony is doing as lieutenant governor? 1% excellent, 19% good, 16% only fair, 2% poor, 62% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Jeff Pine is doing as attorney general? 11% excellent, 41% good, 25% only fair, 10% poor, 13% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as secretary of state? 9% excellent, 36% good, 18% only fair, 1% poor, 36% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Nancy Mayer is doing as general treasurer? 15% excellent, 44% good, 16% only fair, 4% poor, 21% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job John Harwood is doing as Speaker of the House? 2% excellent, 19% good, 25% only fair, 13% poor, 41% don't know or no answer
How would you rate the job Paul Kelly is doing as Senate Majority Leader? 1% excellent, 21% good, 23% only fair, 10% poor, 45% don't know or no answer
Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track? 59% right direction, 32% wrong track, 9% don't know or no answer
There has been a proposal to build a new stadium near downtown Providence. Do you favor the construction of this stadium? 41% favor, 47% oppose, 12% don't know or no answer
Would you favor construction of this stadium if it required state revenue bonds of $80 to 120 million, to be repaid with tax revenues generated by the stadium? 32% favor, 57% oppose, 11% don't know or no answer
Which of the following stadium aspects do you think should be publicly financed through state revenue bonds?
a) acquiring the land where the stadium would be built? 32% yes, 52% no, 16% don't know or no answer
b) building highway ramps to the stadium? 39% yes, 48% no, 13% don't know or no answer
c) demolishing existing buildings on the site? 25% yes, 64% no, 11% don't know or no answer
d) providing stadium parking? 30% yes, 61% no, 9% don't know or no answer
e) building a hotel and/or sports museum adjacent to the stadium? 18% yes, 71% no, 11% don't know or no answer
f) reimbursing the city of Providence for the costs of fire and safety protection? 44% yes, 46% no, 10% don't know or no answer
g) building some of the stadium itself? 29% yes, 60% no, 11% don't know or no answer
h) constructing luxury skyboxes at the stadium? 12% yes, 76% no, 12% don't know or no answer
How much do you think this new stadium would benefit the Rhode Island economy? 28% a lot, 29% some, 36% not very much, 7% don't know or no answer
If Rhode Island has a major league sports franchise, do you think it will make people in the state feel: 48% better about the state, 40% no different, 5% worse about the state, 7% don't know or no answer
Do you feel that the national media exposure that comes along with having a major league sports franchise will make the state more attractive to those from outside of Rhode Island? 69% yes, 24% no, 7% don't know or no answer
Would having a major league sports franchise in the state make you feel proud to be a Rhode Islander? 38% yes, 52% no, 10% don't know or no answer
Should this investment by the city and state be put to building this stadium or devoted to other purposes? 23% build stadium, 66% other purposes, 11% don't know or no answer
Do you believe the stadium proposal should be subject to approval by the General Assembly? 66% yes, 25% no, 9% don't know or no answer
Do you believe the stadium proposal should be subject to approval by voters in a referendum? 85% yes, 12% no, 3% don't know or no answer
How would you evaluate the job Governor Lincoln Almond has done in handling the stadium issue? 7% excellent, 33% good, 28% only fair, 20% poor, 12% don't know or no answer
How would you evaluate the job Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci has done in handling the stadium issue? 15% excellent, 28% good, 23% only fair, 18% poor, 16% don't know or no answer
Which of the following do you worry about in regard to having a new stadium in Providence?
a) traffic jams on Route 95? 77% yes, 18% no, 5% don't know or no answer
b) rowdy fans? 46% yes, 48% no, 6% don't know or no answer
c) loud noise? 39% yes, 55% no, 6% don't know or no answer
d) raising the state's longterm debt level? 72% yes, 17% no, 11% don't know or no answer######