WooSox play first game in new ballpark as McCoy Stadium sits empty

WORCESTER, Mass. (WLNE) – The Worcester Red Sox are set to play the first game at Polar Park Tuesday, the inaugural game after the team left Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium last year.

The brand new $118 million ballpark opens Tuesday for a 3:05 p.m. game against the Syracuse Mets. It’s the first of 12 games from now until May 23.

The former Pawtucket Red Sox moved to Worcester after a disappointing final season in Rhode Island that was canceled due to the pandemic. The team’s final game in Pawtucket took place last July.

“We all tried to make this work and it didn’t work and we wish them nothing but the best. Selfishly you wanted to still have them here but it is what it is. So we’re trying to figure out what we do with McCoy,” Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said to ABC6 on Tuesday.

Grebien said while it’s a sad day, it’s also a new chapter for the city. He said his office is still reviewing proposals for the stadium’s future.

“We’ll start talking to some of the proposals out there. COVID stopped us in a lot of ways so we’re trying to figure out what that next use will be. You know, there’s talk of an independent league that might be willing to come in, there was a waterpark, there’s a community aspect, community event,” Grebien said. “At the end of the day, it’s what’s the highest and best use and we’ll determine that. Some thoughts are maybe it’s a high school… so we’re gonna do the due diligence now that we’re starting to get back on track and take advantage of some of the federal dollars that are coming in, so this point we’re still unsure. But as the WooSox open and left us with this empty hole, we’re dealing with it.”

The PawSox played 50 seasons at McCoy Stadium. The city of Pawtucket sued the team in January for the upkeep of the property, something Grebien said is making finding a new tenant a challenge.

The 8-page complaint states the team failed and refused to fully perform “required maintenance, repair, and other obligations in connection with the team’s lease and use of city-owned McCoy Stadium.”

“Right now the challenge is is that we have a lawsuit with the Red Sox and PawSox to determine a lot of what the upkeep was that we feel is responsible for them. So we have the empty building if you will, and even where they sold off stuff that they didn’t even need so it’s an empty shell.”

Governor Dan McKee said Tuesday that he called an executive on the team to wish them well.

“It’s a loss and there is no secret that I was a big supporter of keeping the Pawtucket Red Sox here, right here in Rhode Island and Pawtucket,” the governor said. “You know I wished him the best, they were great partners here for us in Rhode Island for many many years. From Ben all the way through to the time when they left and that abbreviated pandemic year which we didn’t get the chance to really say thank you for all that they gave.

© WLNE-TV 2021

Categories: Massachusetts, News, Regional News, Rhode Island