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January 27, 2021

Worcester City Council approves extra $14M Polar Park borrowing

Photo | Grant Welker Crews are working to complete Polar Park in Worcester in time for an opening as soon as April.

The Worcester City Council approved unanimously Tuesday night new borrowing of $14 million to cover the latest cost overruns at the city-owned Polar Park baseball stadium.

Those new costs, which were disclosed earlier this month and bring the project's cost to roughly $157.7 million, will be reimbursed by the Worcester Red Sox as part of the minor league baseball team's annual lease payment over the next 35 years. The team is paying $7 million upfront for those cost increases, which reflect largely unspecified increases of building the stadium over the past year.

Polar Park, which could open as soon as April, depending on minor league baseball's plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic, was initially slated to cost $101 million. Those costs, which include construction itself and site acquisition, rose to $132 million a year ago in large part because of unexpected costs of buying and knocking down buildings that stood in the way, as well as paying to move businesses located there.

City officials have said they expect public costs for Polar Park to be reimbursed through team payments as well as rising tax revenue from new developments proposed for a new ballpark district.

The unanimous vote didn't include Councilor Matthew Wally, who, because of his job at TD Bank, abstains from voting on the ballpark, and Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, who was absent.

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