PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — McCoy Stadium sits empty, leaving many to wonder what will happen to the historic ballpark in Pawtucket.
As the PawSox, now the WooSox, are calling a Worcester ballpark their new home, the city of Pawtucket is paying for something that’s not being used.
“It’s mixed emotions, it’s sad,” Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said.
“We want to have baseball here it was part of our history and a morale booster, and everybody made the decisions for different reasons and now we are here picking up the pieces and trying to figure out the best way to do it,” Grebien continued.
There are still plenty of pieces of history on display in the stadium including murals of former players in the concourses and walls of the walking ramps, and the tribute to the longest baseball game ever played: 33 innings in 1981 over the course of three days and two different months.
But now there are pieces of signs missing, billboards have fallen down, and some paint has as well.
“Would I love to have baseball here? Yes. But it can’t cost the city anything we already handling what we can’t afford now,” Grebien said.
An outside management team has been hired by the city at the cost of $6,500 a month to maintain the property and keep up its curb appeal to remain an attractive option for a potential new tenant.
Other professional minor league teams have shown some interest in moving to Pawtucket, along with local high schools and colleges reaching out, but the question is if baseball is the most fiscally responsible option for the land.
“While we want baseball and there are baseball organizations out there, we are having a conversation with to see if there is a model that fits,” he said.
There are also lawsuits. The city of Pawtucket according to Grebien has been “holding the bag that the Red Sox and the state of Rhode Island dropped when the team decided to leave for Worcester.”
“Part of the court appearances and process we will have with the Red Sox. Not only have we asked them to live up to their obligation here, but also to their commitment of wanting to keep their legacy here, and what could they do,” Grebien said.
“Could they give us the PawSox name? Would they be willing to put a single A Red Sox team if it makes sense and the models are changing? There are independent league teams,” he continued. “Would they be willing to partner with us at cost and not on the taxpayers? That’s what we’re using, and if not, maybe we have to take it down, and while there is a lot of history I don’t think anyone from a morality standpoint wants to do that.”
The mayor says the city is looking at the stadium maybe being part of a public safety complex, or part of a governmental center.
“We want to get what is right for the taxpayers,” he noted.
In the meantime, former PawSox co-owner and now WooSox co-owner and chairman Larry Luchino is settling into his team’s new home. After many cost overruns, some COVID-related, the new Polar Park cost $155 million to build — almost double the amount of a proposed deal to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island.
“We have good feelings about the 50 years the Red Sox spent there and good feelings about McCoy,” Luchino said. “As you can see it’s a different flavor of ice cream. That one is 78 years old, and this is brand new, and this has so many features that are not there.”
Back at McCoy, the grass will be cut again soon, and maybe one day cheering fans, the crack of the bat, and the smell of hot dogs, peanuts, and cracker jack will be back.