Minor League Soccer could jump into abandoned Minor League Baseball cities.
While Major League Baseball is contemplating shrinking its Minor League Baseball product, the minor league United Soccer League is expanding its offerings. Pawtucket, Rhode Island is getting a USL expansion franchise with the team owners and the USL targeting a 2022 start date. The team will play near a minor league baseball facility that was judged inadequate, McCoy Stadium, by Pawtucket Red Sox owners. The Triple A baseball team is headed to Worcester, Massachusetts because Worcester elected officials really wanted a minor league baseball team and felt investing millions of dollars into building a miniature Fenway Park and a surrounding village will reinvent the city economically. Worcester will be borrowing nearly $101 million in bonds to support the project. That decision was made before Major League Baseball owners decided to devalue the minor leagues.
Meanwhile in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, local elected politicians have decided that a stadium village should be built on a riverfront and the soccer stadium will be the central focal point of the plan. McCoy Stadium never generated much economic benefits but Rhode Island officials are confident that the area will become a destination point with a soccer team in a 7,500-seat stadium along with a hotel, office and retail space although malls are dying in the United States along with residential space. Pawtucket is hanging onto the baseball stadium and will decide what to do with it another time. The Pawtucket stadium village is expected to cost $400 million with the stadium kicking in somewhere between $70 and 90 million. The state thinks that not only will the USL stadium be a destination point but the entire project will produce 3,500 jobs although there is no breakdown of how many real jobs with a living wage will be developed. Major League Baseball is giving up on many minor league cities. The USL is jumping in.