The WooSox Are Coming! City of Worcester and Baker Administration Officials Deserve Credit for Putting Together a Significant Deal That Has Lured the Pawtucket Red Sox from Their Longtime Home in Rhode Island to North Central Massachusetts.
While Worcester has a lot to crow about in gaining a valuable sports enterprise -- the PawSox are the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox -- last week’s sensational announcement bodes well for the entire region.
We’re just not gaining a prized sports team, but a great economic development that will create opportunities for new and existing businesses -- and that means more jobs.
A ballpark is a destination place, just ask Lowell.
Twenty years ago, the City of Lowell, the state and UMass Lowell entered into an agreement to build LeLacheur Park overlooking the Merrimack River for the Single-A Lowell Spinners minor league baseball team -- which is also an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The visionary idea was transformative on many levels, but most of all it sparked a can-do spirit that raised Lowell’s ambitions even higher to succeed as an urban center.
Through the years, hundreds of thousands of visitors have come into Lowell to watch the Spinners, go to restaurants, and explore the city and its other attractions. Some might never have come if it weren’t for the Spinners and their family-rich venue. In fact, the ballpark’s presence, coupled with the nearby Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, have inspired legions of newcomers to become residents of the city.
Worcester has the same vision to jump-start its future with a major investment that will breathe new life into Massachusetts’ -- and New England’s -- second largest city.
The city is getting more than a great affiliation with the Red Sox. This is the chance for an economic bonanza.
On Friday, the city-state partnership unveiled plans to build a $90-million stadium for the new Worcester Red Sox, along with two hotels, hundreds of apartment units, a parking garage, and retail spaces for bars and restaurants.
WooSox owners also plan to hold up to 125 annual events, including concerts, at the stadium, which will be called Polar Park and sponsored by soda-maker Polar Beverages.
The state’s taxpayer contribution could reach $35 million. It will fund road and infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood where the 10,000-seat ballpark will be built, as well as new housing and a parking garage.
Worcester officials said they will finance the ballpark’s construction through new tax payments and $34 million in rent paid by WooSox’ owners.
“This is a once-in-a generation opportunity,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a nearby Shrewsbury native. “This is really just building on the momentum, building on the good work that already happening here.”
The new stadium is expected to open in 2021.
This is a game changer not only for Worcester but for the entire region.
The WooSox are coming!