WORCESTER — Expect one of McCoy Stadium’s distinct features to be part of the fan-viewing experience at Polar Park. It’s also possible that one of McCoy’s time-honored traditions will be kept alive when the curtain is officially raised on the future home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Those were the biggest takeaways from the media tour that was held Monday where Worcester and PawSox officials gladly showed off the progress of a construction project that’s closing in on one year and hopes to be wrapped up by April 2021. The dugouts have been installed – interesting to note that the future Worcester ballclub plans to use the first-base dugout after the PawSox, during much of their existence at McCoy, used the third-base dugout – while the concourse area behind home plate and down the first and third-base lines continues to take shape.
In terms of bringing a slice of McCoy to the new digs, it was confirmed that there will be an outfield berm at Polar Park. In Worcester, the grassy knoll that’s been a prime source for families to soak in the atmosphere at McCoy since its inception prior to the 1999 season is expected to stretch from the left-field foul pole to center field.
Unlike McCoy, the berm in Worcester will be broken up into two sections. A section of seats would create a scenario where you have Berm A and Berm B.
“The berm is one of the most romantic aspects of McCoy and one of the most enjoyable aspects for families. Not only will we have a berm in left field [in Worcester], but we’ll have a berm in left-center, too,” said PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg. “That was something we wanted to bring along with us for PawSox fans who come to Worcester.”
“Just like McCoy, the berm in Worcester will be a fun, casual place to hang out,” said Worcester ballpark designer Janet Marie Smith, who brought up the idea of creating a spot in Polar Park that would enable autograph seekers to lower items down with the intention of landing a signature from a ballplayer.
At McCoy Stadium, this practice has long been known as “fishing for autographs.” The bowl-like structure that made the fan experience at McCoy so unique won’t be nearly as dramatic at Polar Park, hence some creativity figures to be needed that would allow soda or milk bottles to be dropped from a certain distance.
“[McCoy Stadium] has been such a wonderful spot for minor league baseball. I hope we can bring a piece or two [to Polar Park],” said Smith.
Ever since the PawSox announced they were leaving Pawtucket, team officials have publicly professed their desire to have the Worcester baseball operation unite both ends of the Blackstone Valley. Naturally, Polar Park will pay homage to some of Worcester’s personal touches, yet what about setting aside some space inside the ballpark that in some form or fashion pays tribute to the Blackstone Valley?
“We haven’t worked out all the details, but it’s a comment we get frequently,” said Smith.
Added Steinberg, “We look to have references to the connection of Massachusetts and Rhode Island here in [Polar Park]. As far as the Blackstone Valley itself, that’s a fundamental part of who we are. There are Worcester elements, but there are certainly Blackstone Valley elements and elements that also connect us to McCoy Stadium and PawSox history.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03