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April 8, 2021

GBH report: Less than $1M of Polar Park contracts went to minority-owned businesses

Photo | Grant Welker Polar Park in Worcester in late March

Less than 1% of construction contracts awarded for Worcester's $160-million Polar Park baseball stadium went to certified minority-owned businesses, according to a news report published Thursday by Boston media outlet GBH News.

Read the entire GBH story here.

GBH investigated the project and found the city government and construction management firm for the stadium provided incorrect information on how many of its contracts were awarded to minority- and female-owned businesses. The news outlet was told certified minority-owned and women-owned businesses made up 17% of construction contracts for the ballpark, with women-owned businesses making up 13% and minority-owned comprising 4%. Instead, GBH found the minority-owned figure was less than 1%

In one case, a company said to be minority-owned was female-owned, and in another, two minority-owned businesses said their contracts totaled a small fraction of what the city and construction management firm Gilbane/Hunt reported they were given. Gilbane/Hunt told GBH it was proud of its hiring for the project, and Worcester Chief Development Officer Peter Dunn said the city was pleased with the 17% minority- and female-owned figure that Gilbane/Hunt provided.

Among other findings, the GBH story said five of the nearly 50 contractors awarded work at Polar Park were Worcester-based businesses. Most of the rest were Eastern Massachusetts firms.

The report comes nearly a month before the Worcester Red Sox first play at Polar Park, with a game scheduled for May 11. The city-owned ballpark cost $160 million to build, including land acquisition and preparation costs, which the Worcester Business Journal has found is the most expensive minor league ballpark ever built, even adjusting for inflation. That compares to a $101-million price tag at the project's inception in August 2018.

A WBJ report in February found that Polar Park's roughly $60-million cost overrun was largely due to planners' decision to build on a hilly site where contaminated soil and a culvert would need to be removed, and where businesses would need to be relocated and their buildings demolished, as well as a tight planning and construction timetable in order to open for the 2021 season.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said GBH found less than 1% of Polar Park contracts went to certified women-owned and minority-owned companies. In actuality, that 1% figure only applied to contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses.

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