Thoughts from the ballpark...
• It sounds like the Pawtucket Red Sox will keep quiet about their future location plans until the final out is recorded in the 2018 season. That means two months of waiting, and nail-biting for fans and supporters.
But that should be no surprise. The stadium financing deal has gone through numerous permutations over the last few weeks, so it’s imperative that team officials go through everything carefully before deciding their next course of action.
And for another thing, the the PawSox wouldn’t want to make an announcement that would hurt attendance in home games in July and August, the time when the club traditionally sees the biggest crowds coming through the turnstiles.
• Discussions between the team and officials in Worcester have been going on for a long time, but as far as we know, Worcester hasn’t yet put a dollar amount on a piece of paper and slid it across the table to PawSox representatives.
There’s no telling when Worcester will go public with their offer — but it wouldn’t register as a shock to see Worcester come forward with their proposal in the next few weeks.
Behind the scenes, you know Worcester is champing at the bit to enter the ballpark sweepstakes. With the R.I. House and Senate officially closed for summer vacation, it’s only a matter of time before Pawtucket’s chief rival to lure the PawSox away “announces it’s presence with authority,” to borrow a phrase from the baseball flick “Bull Durham.”
Depending on what numbers Worcester puts forth, it may turn out that the last-minute swing at the Ballpark at Slater Mill, led by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, may have been designed to be an offer the PawSox had to refuse. We could be looking back at Mattiello’s actions as his way of shifting all the pressure onto the PawSox.
• From the start of this process, the PawSox have said their goal is to be in a new ballpark by 2020, which also marks the final season of the team’s lease at McCoy Stadium. You can pencil in the team to take the field at McCoy in 2019. But what happens if a deal is struck with Worcester some time this fall? Would the PawSox want to be known as “Dead Team Walking” and remain at McCoy for both years of the lease’s duration?
When New Britain, Conn. played out the string as a Double-A franchise in 2015, before the team relocated to Hartford, the Rock Cats finished in the bottom third in attendance among the 12-team Eastern League. That same year, the season’s top three crowds at New Britain Stadium coincided with the final three home games. It was a season where the fans mostly stayed away until it was time to wave goodbye.
• If it does come down to relocation, the PawSox won’t be able to scoot out of town without receiving a majority of approval from the other 13 International League directors. Per I.L. policy, the potential relocating ballclub does not have a vote. The last I.L. franchise to switch cities came in 2009 when Richmond became Gwinnett.
• Know what attracted the PawSox to the Apex site in the first place? The club viewed it as the perfect “Welcome to Rhode Island” greeting that would serve as a warm welcome to outsiders traveling southbound to the Ocean State. A ballpark in plain sight off the highway sure looks and sounds more appealing than some rust bucket of a department store that’s barely in operation.
• Per Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien when reached Wednesday, discussions between city officials and Apex are still ongoing.
• If the PawSox do leave for Worcester, what message does that send to business community? Wouldn’t out-of-state companies think twice about Rhode Island as a base of operation if the state can’t even hold on to a Triple-A baseball team that’s been around for four-plus decades?
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03