Aug. 19, 2018
Pawtucket Red Sox Headed to Worcester
After 48 years at McCoy Stadium, the Pawtucket Red Sox announced on Friday they will be moving to Worcester, Massachusetts. The team began playing games at McCoy back in 1970 as the Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate before entering the International League as the major league team's Triple-A affiliate in 1973. In the history of the franchise, they have taken home four International League Governor's Cups and won their division title seven times. Their most recent championship dates back to 2014 when they defeated the Durham Bulls in five games.
The move comes after the team was unable to reach an agreement to get a new ballpark which would have kept them in Rhode Island. According to The Providence Journal, Pawsox Chairman Larry Lucchino as well as Pawsox president Charles Steinberg had previously expressed their desire to stay in Rhode Island but place the blame on the Rhode Island House of Representatives. The blame on the House comes from its refusal to pass a stadium financial plan that was negotiated by the team and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo before being passed by the Senate last year. According to Lucchino and Steinberg, had the bill passed the General Assembly the team would have remained in Rhode Island for at least the next three decades.
To make things more interesting, the House and General Assembly passed a bill last June which would have seen the $83 million project financed by the Pawsox to the tune of $45 million and any overruns that occurred. Additionally, the team would have had to purchase the Apex site where the ballpark would be built, a concern executives of the PawSox had. Instead, the team decided to move to Worcester and with the new stadium set to be ready for April 2021, the team will call McCoy Stadium their home for at least two more seasons.
The nearly 10,000 seat stadium in Worcester is tentatively set to be called "Polar Park" after Polar Seltzer and tribute to the PawSox polar bear logo according to Larry Lucchino. Not only will a ballpark be built, but so will 250 market-rate apartments, a hotel featuring 150 rooms, 65,000 feet retail and restaurant space, and a smaller hotel overlooking the ballpark. All this will cost around $86-$90 million which is being paid for in a variety of ways. According to Worcester Magazine, the city will borrow and use lease payments, property taxes from within the development, fees and parking from new development to pay the bond. Over the next few years, the State of Massachusetts will put in $35 million to support infrastructure work, new housing in the area, and a 350-500 space parking garage to support the development. As opposed to the Rhode Island deal where the PawSox would have taken on over half the ballpark bill, they will only take on 36% of the financing for the ballpark while the City of Worcester and State of Massachusetts will chip in the other 64%.
With their attendance ranking in the lower half of the 14-team International League for the last five years, a change was obviously needed to help draw fans to see the PawSox play. Back in 2014, the now Colorado Rockies Double-A affiliate Hartford Yard Goats of the Eastern League had a similar problem, seeing declining attendance in New Britain as the Rock Cats for a number of years, the team decided to pack up and move to Hartford. Since moving to Hartford, the team has seen a rise in attendance which has placed them in the top three of the 12-team league each in their first two seasons. For the PawSox, while a new ballpark did not come in their longtime home of Pawtucket, the team will hopefully find similar success to what the Yard Goats saw in their soon-to-be home of Worcester a few years from now.
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