Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: November 27, 2023 Editorial

Editorial: Next WooSox owners should be local

Since the top minor league baseball franchise of the Boston Red Sox announced in 2018 its plans to relocate from Pawtucket to a new Worcester stadium in 2021, the team has done an excellent job weaving itself into the fabric of the Greater Worcester community. Even though the team’s management and ownership had just a few direct connections to the region beforehand, WooSox leadership has made it a point to have representatives at almost every major business and community event, been active in key organizations like the Canal District Alliance, launched a $400,000 foundation, and brought a seemingly endless recognition of community leaders, organizations, and residents out to game days during its first three seasons. The current ownership and management group have been on top of their game, and when the team eventually does have a change in ownership, the more local their roots are, the better.

WooSox Chairman Larry Lucchino, who leads the team’s nine-person ownership group, told the Unanchored Boston podcast he is looking to sell the team, preferably to a local buyer, as the 78 year old heads into retirement. WooSox officials later walked back those comments somewhat, saying the team has been fielding offers since 2021, but now seems like an advantageous time for Lucchino to transition the WooSox to a new ownership group. Having just wrapped up their third season, the WooSox attendance figures have remained high, and corporate support for the team continues to be solid, as at least 16 of the team’s 21 founding corporate sponsors have renewed their deals. Revenues are strong, and their lease at the $160-million Polar Park baseball stadium, which is owned by the City of Worcester, is team friendly. The first few years of the 35-year lease call for payments in the tens of thousands of dollars, while the highest annual payments aren’t due until near the end of the lease, including a $10-million payment in the 28th year. With the Luchino group having paid $25 million for the team in 2015, conditions seem favorable for them to receive double that price or more.

Who are the top prospects to purchase controlling interest in the team? Minor league baseball already has a handful of corporate owners who’ve turned the sports into a well-oiled investment opportunity, such as Diamond Baseball Holdings, which has an ownership stake in about 20 teams, including the Portland Sea Dogs in Maine. While such a group may come in with the highest bid, we would encourage Lucchino to go with the local offer. In the late 70s, the Pawtucket Red Sox were bought out of bankruptcy by local owner Ben Mondor, and not only did he turn around their fortunes, but ran the organization superbly for three decades. Having team owners invested in the local community counts for a great deal for a business like the WooSox, and while most of the current ownership has Rhode Island roots, there are a couple in that group of nine with a Worcester connection, most notably Ralph Crowley, whose company Polar Beverages already has its name on the ballpark. A private equity funded corporate owner largely focused on financial returns would be a lot less likely to value the high level of community engagement the WooSox have built, and that community buy-in has a lot to do with the team’s long-term success.

Whether Lucchino sells his ownership stake in three months or three years, the writing on the wall is clear: the Worcester Red Sox ought to lean local.

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


Stephen Quist
November 27, 2023

When does WBJ finally acknowledge they've been wrong all along dragging Worcester's most transformative economic development project in it's history since inception?
Polar Park has clearly shown that public/private partnerships is the new paradigm moving forward in economic development projects of this magnitude for the benefit of the entire city.
The next editorial might entail a mea culpa?

Order a PDF