Minor League Teams And A Tale Of Two Cities

Things are not going well in Pawtucket and Worcester.

The saga of putting a minor league soccer team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to replace Minor League Baseball’s Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox continues. The story begins with the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox who in 2017 began discussions with Rhode Island officials in an attempt to get a new stadium. Rhode Island lost the franchise because Worcester, Massachusetts elected officials gave the Pawtucket owners a great deal which they could not refuse. The team began play in Worcester in 2021. Pawtucket could not go after another Minor League Baseball franchise because it is only 47 miles from Pawtucket to Worcester and unless the former Pawtucket Red Sox ownership waived its territorial rights, Pawtucket was on the outside looking in.

Rhode Island officials looked at various proposals and  decided they wanted a sports stadium on the property and went after the second-tier United Soccer League and approved plans for a soccer facility to replace the baseball park. Construction on the stadium began in 2022 and then suddenly stopped. The developer ran out of money. Rhode Island was supposed to put up $60 million for the stadium-village concept but decided not to pay its portion of the tab until the developer found money to restart the construction. Apparently the money has been raised but construction is still on pause. Meanwhile things have not exactly worked out according to the plan in Worcester. The Boston Red Sox Triple A affiliate does well getting people into the stands but the stadium-village has been far more expensive than originally advertised. There was a design error and to rectify the situation it cost about $20 million. The stadium’s cost was about $160 million. Worcester political and business leaders seem unconcerned that the stadium-village may not bring a positive return on its investment.

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Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com