The Pawtucket Red Sox are leaving Rhode Island for central Massachusetts after a three-year search for a new home.
Team officials signed a deal on Friday which aims to move the organization to Worcester. This has been a major victory for city officials who have spent almost a year in efforts to attract the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
The city and state officials also unveiled plans for a new development in a news conference in Worcester. The plan includes construction of a $90 million stadium for the team along with hundreds of apartment units, two hotels, a parking garage and retail spaces.
Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said that this is a huge opportunity. They are just building on the momentum and the good work that is already happening here.
Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty received a standing ovation after announcing the news. There were chants of “WooSox.” This seems to be a new nickname for the team, which is commonly called the PawSox.
The team would still continue to play at the McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket for the next two years or so. The stadium is 77-year-old. The new deal would move the team about 40 miles from its current home in Pawtucket.
Larry Lucchino, the chairman of Red Sox Chairman said the deal marks a major milestone on a journey that had begun 12 months ago.
Even though Worcester officials were celebrating the deal, some in Rhode Island were blasting it.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she won’t give up and she is not going to take no for an answer right away. She added that she will ask for another meeting and another chance.
PawSox officials said in July last year they were looking for offers from various cities interested to help them build a new stadium after they had failed to reach an agreement to remain in Pawtucket. After this, the team office was flooded with almost 10,000 postcards signed from fans who urged the PawSox to move to Worcester. That is a huge number.
Raimondo signed a legislation in June, designed to keep the team in Pawtucket. Now with the legislation, the team, the state and the city can start shopping for bonds to finance the new stadium in Pawtucket.
The PawSox would be contributing $45 million out of the $83 million project under the Rhode Island’s plan. They would be responsible if the costs overruns. The state and the city would be responsible only for the remaining $38 million in bonds.