If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably become more accustomed to attending minor-league games than major-league games. For so many reasons, these are just so much more convenient. There’s the simple matter of ticket price, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s also a lot easier to get to these games unless you actually live in the city (or right outside of it) and it’s cheaper to go out after. It’s also, generally speaking, a much more mellow and relaxed environment much more conducive for those of you with families. For all of these reasons and more, it’s just an easier way for many of us to watch live, high-level baseball than actually making our way out to Fenway. For those of you who are living in Rhode Island, that experience could be a lot more difficult to come by in the near-future.
Honestly, this is a story that we should have been covering a bit more here at OTM, but it’s kind of eluded me over the summer months. It’s something I’ve followed on the periphery, but not really head on. Since I would never make the mistake of assuming I’m unique or special in any way, I’d assume that also describes a fair number of you. So, here’s a quick bit of background on the situation. The Red Sox’ Triple-A club has been in Rhode Island, and specifically Pawtucket, since the early-70’s. There have been some bumps along the ride, but for the most part they’ve been incredibly successful there, at least for a minor-league team. However, the lease on McCoy Park has approached its end and the team is asking the city and state for funding to build a new one. The state is not agreeing to those terms, and the exclusive negotiation window on a new park with the city of Pawtucket closed this past summer. Because of that, the team has also been negotiating with other cities and towns in the area for a potential move.
Pawtucket still has a chance to keep its team and is fighting for it, which we’ll get to in a minute, but it seems as if there is a legitimate challenger out in central Mass. Worcester, the state’s second-largest city behind Boston, has been eyeing the Red Sox’ Triple-A club since the possibility of a move first came to light. According to reports, a park could potentially be built in the city’s Canal District.
Now, the city of Pawtucket is starting to fear that the worst may happen and the team may actually be moving away. The mayor of Pawtucket, Donald Grebein, met with state officials on on Tuesday and implored them to consider striking a deal to keep the team in Rhode Island. He insists that the deal Worcester has on the table to acquire the club is very real and is afraid of the consequences if Rhode Island loses its only professional baseball team.
This is a pretty complicated issue, and I’d be somewhat torn if I were a Pawtucket — or just Rhode Island — resident. On the one hand, I really do believe that governments should essentially never agree to fund a sports stadium. The owners of these teams, even minor-leagues, have enough where they can make it work. Remember, the PawSox are owned the Red Sox and run by Larry Lucchino. They can afford it. On the other hand, there is pretty much always another city or town that will be willing to foot that bill, and taking a strong stance can cost you some entertainment that you’d hate to lose. At the end of the day, if I were a resident of either Worcester or Pawtucket I’d be against paying for the new park. That being said, there would also be a small part of me trying to go against my principles for selfish reasons.
Either way, this situation seems like it has the potential to get messy and a Rhode Island institution could be taken away from the state at some point in the near future. We’ve neglected this story a bit on this site, but we’ll do our best to keep everyone updated when more information comes to light.