Worcester bets on new ballpark to spur development (Boston Business Journal)

By   –  Projects Reporter, 

Tuesday will be the first game for the Worcester Red Sox in their new home city. For Worcester, whether the team’s move is a win will take far longer to play out.

The brand new city-owned ballpark, Polar Park, was built not so much only with the idea of drawing the top affiliate of the Boston Red Sox to town as it was an ambitious play: That Worcester’s Canal District neighborhood and the rest of the city would benefit from new interest from developers wanting to build apartments, restaurants and other space next to the stadium.

Worcester has gone all-in on the stadium.

The Worcester City Council voted in 2017 to direct City Manager Edward Augustus to do all in his power to bring to Worcester the then-Pawtucket Red Sox, who were looking for a new stadium to replace the dated McCoy Stadium. Efforts from the PawSox to build a new facility in Pawtucket or next-door Providence received cool receptions from a state that was still reeling from a failed investment in former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company.

In August 2018, the PawSox and Worcester city officials, along with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, unveiled their plans: a $101 million ballpark to be built on a sloped parking lot that stood over a contaminated former industrial site. The team would begin play in April 2021.

The project has not gone entirely smoothly since.

The team’s debut was pushed back a month because of the coronavirus pandemic. From the initial cost, nearly $60 million in additional costs have been incurred, largely due to where officials chose to build. The site required removing contaminated soil and a culvert, and acquiring adjacent parcels, knocking down buildings and relocating businesses was far costlier than first thought.

be smaller while construction was already ongoing. Capacity was reduced, and a brick façade was exchanged for blue corrugated steel.

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