August 20, 2018

City must move quickly on WooSox ballpark process

Photo | Zachary Comeau
It was all smiles when the deal was announced to bring the PawSox to Worcester, but now it's time to get to work.

It's been an exciting weekend in Worcester for those who worked tirelessly to convince the Pawtucket Red Sox to move to the city, but now it's time to get to work to make a possible $90-million ballpark in the Canal District a reality.

The letter of intent signed by the city and team to build the stadium for the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate includes some hasty timelines, including steps that the Worcester Redevelopment Authority must take this week.

At its Wednesday meeting, the WRA is expected to authorize the issuance of a request for services for an owner's project manager and another for design services for the project.

According to the agreement signed by the parties, those steps must be taken less than two weeks after the document was signed, which was last Friday morning. An OPM, which the team approves, must be secured by Oct. 10 this year.

City Council must approve the borrowing of $101 million to fund the project, which must be started by July 1, and construction must be complete in time for opening day in April 2021.

Necessary approvals must be obtained by March 1, per the agreement.

Other project materials distributed by the city indicate the haste by which the process must move. According to an FAQ from the city, the Mill Brook Drainage Conduit will not be relocated due to time and expense.

If Worcester fails to live up to the quick timeline, the team could suspend its obligations in the agreement, and vice versa if the team fails to secure an agreement with the developer by Jan. 1 or fails to obtain all necessary approvals from baseball authorities.

The City Council is expected to discuss the matter at its Tuesday meeting, but no vote is expected. Instead, the financing package and project will be referred to the council's Economic Development Committee. A series of public hearings on the proposal will be head in the coming weeks.

In addition to the 10,000-seat ballpark, the project will include 650,000 square feet of mixed-use space, including two hotels, apartments and restaurant and retail space.

Kelley Square would be remade with Massachusetts Department of Transportation funds. The state would also pitch in $35 million for a 350- to 500-space parking garage and unspecified infrastructure improvements.

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