Worcester, MA - The Worcester metropolitan area in Massachusetts is no stranger to hosting minor league affiliate teams for squads of the professional caliber. For many years, the Worcester Sharks skated in the DCU Center as a member of the San Jose Sharks organization in the National Hockey League, before the team moved to San Jose, leaving Worcester with their new team, the Railers. (For eleven years before the Sharks, Worcester was home to the St. Louis Blues' Worcester IceCats.)
Now, a new minor league team is coming to Worcester. The AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, the Pawtucket Red Sox, affectionately known as the PawSox, are going to become the Worcester Red Sox by 2021. It is a deal that has left many in the Pawtucket region feeling let down and others feeling like they took the team for granted since the Red Sox signed a deal with the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island back in 1973.
The move to Worcester was finalized after the plan for a new stadium, to be known as Polar Park, received the city's approval just last week before chairman Larry Lucchino announced the move at Worcester's City Hall. The city's stadium expansion is expected to be completed by 2021, which, at ninety million dollars, is an exceptionally fast turnaround. Polar Park is slated to be built right off of Worcester's notorious intersection, Kelley Square, and will be able to seat ten thousand fans.
During the announcement, Lucchino announced the partnership with the stadium would be with the city's local beverage company, Polar Beverages. He also playfully claimed that the WooSox could be a new nickname for the AAA squad.
What's not playful is the reaction from Don Grebien, Pawtucket's mayor, who said that secret negotiations stripped the team from their rightful city.
Not everyone in Worcester is happy about the deal either, as the city has guaranteed repayment over the construction debts for Polar Park. The team's movement could lead to an added step in Worcester's revival, but if it fails, it could set the city back even further.
Regardless, those who live in central Massachusetts will certainly be at least excited to see up and coming Red Sox players hit home runs in their city.