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January 26, 2023

WooSox to temporarily take over space originally slated for delayed bioscience facility

Rendering | Courtesy of the Worcester Red Sox The Worcester Red Sox plan to create this fan-experience area in the space where the proposed Left Field Building bioscience complex is slated to be built.

When the Worcester Red Sox open their third season at Polar Park on March 31 against the Syracuse Mets, the team plans on temporarily taking over the space set aside for the delayed Left Field Building, which is part of a five-building planned development slated to help pay for the $160-million public baseball stadium.

The plan to create a fan zone in that area next to the left-field scoreboard was unveiled Thursday as part of new WooSox-funded upgrades for the 2023 season, including heated areas in the stadium, more food options, and additional ticket booths. 

Polar Park “has been an enormous success, but for this enormous venture proposition to be successful, it has to be a win-win situation,” Larry Lucchino, chairman and principal owner of the WooSox, said during the presentation to season ticket holders on Thursday. “A win for the team, and a win for the city, and a win for the region as well.”

In the place where the Left Field Building is supposed to be constructed, the WooSox will have a new fan deck in left field on Plymouth Street to include cornhole games, a stage for live music, and four canopies for shelter from rain and shade from the sun. The area will include 36 tables and 175 seats in left-center field and accessible for anyone who attends a game.

The area will be a fan experience until Boston developer Madison Properties builds what is supposed to be the Left Field Building and finds tenants, Lucchino said.

The underground portion of the Left Field Building has already been constructed, as it shares space with Polar Park, and the ground-level foundation is visible. Madison Properties is waiting to complete construction of the building until it lines up a main tenant for the facility, as it plans to build-to-suit that tenant’s needs, according to previous statements Madison President Denis Dowdle made to WBJ. The original goal was to have a life sciences company occupy the building.

Dowdle didn’t respond on Thursday to requests for comment about the WooSox plan to take over the space until the building is built.

The Left Field Building was originally slated to open in 2023, as part of a five-building development from Madison Properties. The property tax collections from those buildings are one of the main sources of revenue the City of Worcester plans to use to pay off the 30-year debt on the $160-million public stadium, in order for the ballpark to pay for itself and not use general taxpayer-funded sources of revenue. However, as those developments have been delayed, the revenue collections from the district surrounding the ballpark have been underperforming, and the City sold off a piece of public property near the stadium to cover the debt payments.

The completion of the Left Field Building has been delayed to at least 2024, according to the latest update from the City, which was in February. The building has been approved for a $3-million tax break, and Madison must start making property tax payments on the property in 2024, regardless of whether the building is constructed.

Aside from taking over the space planned for the Left Field Building, the other amenities announced by the WooSox on Thursday include a new swing set behind the video board and three new Blue Woo Shuttles to provide transportation to and from Polar Park from city parking lots, like the one next to the Worcester Public Library and parking garages in the city. Heaters are being added to the concourse, the cabanas on the Hanover Deck, and other group areas.

“Those things still present themselves as we get to the developmental stage of the project,” Lucchino continued. “But we are really proud of this ballpark, we are proud of the success we have had and the success the fans have attributed to Worcester and Central Mass. And we are really hopeful we can keep this ballpark changing and new and different enough to keep people coming back time and time again, year and year again.”

New food options for the 2023 season include lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, and Taco and Tequila Tuesday. More drink rails have been added, as well as televisions in the bathrooms. In addition, the team is introducing a peanut-allergy free week from May 14 to 21, and the left-field berm will continue to be a peanut-free zone for people with peanut allergies. 

The team built two new ticket booths at Gates B and C, so fans can now buy or pick-up will call tickets at Gates A through D at the stadium.  

Since the upgrades being made are part of the WooSox’s fan experience, the team is paying for them, said WooSox President Charles Steinberg.

Steinberg said it was like a renter-and-landlord situation. If the infrastructure of the stadium needed upgrading, then it would fall on the landlord, which is the City of Worcester, to take care of it and would come out of the capital fund set up between the team and the City. But the fan experience expenses fall on the team, he said.

The team also announced new theme nights – including bring-your-dog games on Wednesdays – for the upcoming season and a new loyalty program called WooSox Rewards, which will replace its Worcester Red Sox Booster Club. The team’s first Throwback Thursday event will have Orlando Cabrera, who played shortstop on the 2004 World Series winning Boston Red Sox, coming to Worcester to sign autographs and greet fans on April 13.

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January 28, 2023

No doubt trying to 'hook' a tenant into a long term lease, and no one is taking the' bait', 1.3 mil due in June, are they gonna raid the' slush fund' (residents
property tax) ? ......a 'project' the city wouldn't allow the residents to vote on, but 'potentially 'are going to pay for..…

Robert Anderson
January 27, 2023

What can the city sell next ????

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