Worcester Trying to Lure Sox from Pawtucket
By Colin A. Young
Statehouse News Service
BOSTON -- The mayor of Pawtucket, R.I., sounded fairly certain of it, but state and local officials were mum Tuesday about the prospect of Worcester luring the Red Sox AAA affiliate to Massachusetts.
The Pawtucket Red Sox have played just over the border in Rhode Island since the early 1970s, but the team, city and Ocean State have been at odds in recent years over varying proposals to build a new ballpark in Pawtucket or move the team to Providence’s downtown riverfront.
Sensing that the opportunity to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket is slipping away, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien held a “now or never” press conference Tuesday to make one last attempt at keeping the team in his city and suggested that Worcester was about to snatch the team away.
“The Worcester, Mass., deal is real, make no mistake about it,” Grebien said at a noon press conference, according to a livestream hosted by Worcester Magazine. “The city of Worcester and the state of Massachusetts understand what has been so hard for us to break through in the General Assembly: what this means to economic development and the opportunity for this community.”
Grebien said the deal offered by Worcester “is rumored to be cheaper for the team” than what Pawtucket and the state of Rhode Island could offer.
Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus said Tuesday morning that the city has not finalized any deal to build a ballpark for the PawSox, though he acknowledged the city’s efforts to lure the team.
“We continue to have regular conversations with the PawSox and we did have another meeting with the team last week. We look forward to continuing those conversations and seeing where they lead,” Augustus, a former state senator, said in a statement.
On Friday, PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino, Vice-Chairman Mike Tamburro, General Manager Dan Rea and Chief Financial Officer Joe Goldberg attended a three-hour lunch meeting with Augustus, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
“Discussions are continuing,” the paper reported Lucchino as saying last week, “and other than that we have no comment.”
Two consultants hired to Worcester City Hall in August -- former state transportation secretary Jeffrey Mullan and Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist -- were also in attendance, the Telegram reported.
Asked about the state’s role in Worcester’s attempts to draw the minor league Red Sox, Gov. Charlie Baker’s spokesman Brendan Moss did not directly answer questions posed to him but said the administration is “always willing to assist municipal partners in exploring potential economic development initiatives.”
But on Dec. 1, Baker spoke to the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and indicated that he supports the city’s initiative.