The Pawtucket Red Sox announced plans Friday to move to a new ballpark in Worcester in 2021, ending the Boston Red Sox' nearly 50-year minor-league affiliation with Rhode Island.
The Pawtucket franchise, now led by former Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, announced at a press conference that they've signed a letter of intent to move 42 miles north to the central Massachusetts city's downtown Canal District near I-290.
A beautiful innovative downtown ballpark is coming to “The Heart of the Commonwealth” in 2021. Visionaries Larry Lucchino and Janet Marie Smith, who created Camden Yards and who helped save Fenway Park, will create a Triple-A park in Worcester, MA. https://t.co/GKvSsgTMit pic.twitter.com/S95dUQTO3Y— PawSox (@PawSox) August 17, 2018
According to a PawSox press release, the design and construction of the new park will be overseen by Lucchino and former Boston Red Sox executive Janet Marie Smith, who, with Lucchino, oversaw numerous improvements to Fenway Park the past 15 years. Smith also designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Smith is now senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers and will continue in that job while participating in the design of the 10,000-seat Worcester park.
“We are eager to build an innovative, family-friendly ballpark that reflects the love and appreciation of baseball and that unifies Central Massachusetts and the Blackstone Valley Corridor,” Lucchino said in the team's release.
Lucchino said the ballpark will be named Polar Park in a naming-rights deal with Polar Beverage Company of Worcester.
A city of Worcester press release says the proposed self-supported Canal District development is expected to cost up to $90 million and Massachusetts will commit $35 million to the project in the next two to three years.
Under the plan, the PawSox would continue to play at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket until the end of the 2020 season.
Lucchino signed the letter in a ceremony at Worcester’s City Hall with Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty on hand. The project is subject to the approval of the Worcester City Council, the International League, and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.
The PawSox spent more than three years trying to build a new stadium in Rhode Island and obtain public financing for it. A deal for a park ballpark in Providence fell through and the team wasn't happy with the package for a downtown Pawtucket park approved in June.
A Red Sox' Double-A affiliate began playing in Rhode Island in 1970 and the Triple-A team began playing at 70-year-old McCoy Stadium in 1973.