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video: Whitcomb Says Chances of PawSox Going to Worcester are Slim

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Robert Whitcomb

GoLocal’s Robert Whitcomb argued that the chances of the Pawtucket Red Sox moving to Worcester are slim, despite inquiries from Worcester and Massachusetts officials.

Worcester, he said, doesn’t contain the necessary population, and isn’t located on route 95 like Pawtucket. Further, the fact that the team will be asking for a similar amount of help from taxpayers won’t make their potential move as appetizing to Massachusetts residents, Whitcomb said.

“As much as I like some of the stuff in Worcester--it’s got a great museum, it’s got great colleges, and some other things I like--from a market standpoint, from an economic standpoint, it doesn’t look that great,” said Whitcomb.

Whitcomb's storied career as a journalist includes serving as the Editor of the Editorial Page at the Providence Journal, as the Finance Editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and as an editor and writer at The Wall Street Journal in New York.


Related Slideshow: 10 Things That Need to Happen to Get PawSox to Worcester

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Arrange Meeting with PawSox Owners

City officials need to sit down with the new PawSox ownership group. CEO Michael Tamburro grew up in Worcester and is a graduate of North High.

The new ownership group is led by Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, who will serve as Chairman, and James J. Skeffington, who will be President

"We are very excited about our purchase of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the opportunity to partner with the Boston Red Sox to provide first class baseball and family entertainment to our loyal fan base in New England," said Skeffington, who will oversee the operation on a daily basis.

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Providence Deal Needs to Fall Through

There's always the chance that Providence could balk at the amount of public funding that the new ownership group is looking for. Early indications show that the number could be upwards of $70 million.

"The doors are always open," said Tim Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. "If the deal were to fall apart, I think people here would be willing to listen, but everyone recognizes this requires signifcant municipal assistance. Massachusetts, traditionally, has been reluctant to use tax dollars to those kind of things, and I think in most cases, appropriately so."

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Sell Public on WHY It Will Work

With the loss of the AHL Worcester Sharks looming after this season, Worcester will be without a professional sports team. Worcester residents will look to its city officials to do something to get a pro team back to the city.

"As usual, the city leaders have done nothing to attract the PawSox. It's been known for several months that the PawSox were going to be sold. Much like with the Sharks, the city has been reactive instead of proactive. The city leaders - (i.e. government and businesses), and some state leaders as well - need to step it up. Unfortunately, they seem to think Spag's is still around and want something for nothing (or almost nothing). Looking for bargains where very little effort has to be put into it. The city manager, mayor, and city council have been virtually silent on the Sharks move, and probably weren't even aware about the PawSox until it was too late," said Rich Lubin, President of the Worcester Sharks Booster Club.

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Strengthen Public Support

Worcester is home to the Worcester Bravehearts, the defending Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) Champions. After the fiasco that the Worcester Tornadoes turned out to be, residents of Worcester would be proud to see both the Bravehearts and the PawSox succeeding in the city. 

“Worcester is a city that has always loved baseball. You can track the history all the way back to the early 1900’s when we had a team in the National League. With the (Boston) Red Sox so close, and all of these minor league teams, the city still took to the Worcester Bravehearts. We were tops in attendance and won the Championship game in front of more than 2,000 people. Baseball will certainly thrive in this city,” said Casey Cummins, Bravehearts pitching coach. 

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Find Land in Worcester for Stadium

“The 'WorSox' could purchase, clean up and build a fine stadium on the spacious Wyman Gordon property near Kelly Square. That location also has excellent highway access. What a welcome neighbor the team would be to the up-and-coming Canal District. Worcester, New England's 2nd largest city, would be a much better home for the "WorSox." People from cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond would flock to our city on a frequent basis to see such high level and quality baseball," said City Councilor Gary Rosen.

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Utilize Central MA Connections in MA Gov

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, of Shrewsbury, now holds the highest seat of anyone from Central Massachusetts in state government. Her position was formerly occupied by Tim Murray, now the President of Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Worcester could use this connection to help gain support from Governor Charlie Baker and may even be able to garner state funding to help lure the PawSox to the city.

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Find Local Business Partners

The cost of a new stadium could run the city and state upwards of $70 million.

Worcester will need to turn to local businesses to invest in the cleaning up of any area they decide to build a stadium and the actual construction of the stadium.

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Push Forward Canal District Plans

The Canal District is located on the "Green Island" area of Worcester that includes Water Street, Green Street, Millbury Street, and Kelley Square.

Over the past ten years, the city and the Canal District Business Association has put a lot of money into the area to revive it and bring business in.

A push to gain funding to continue to improve the Canal District could be a great sign to the PawSox owners that Worester means business.

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Pay to Clean Up Proposed Land

Tim Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce said the city has looked previously at the Wyman Gordon site, discussed expanding the field at Lake Park, or partnering with one of the colleges or universities on a site to build a baseball stadium. Murray noted that things get tricky when you start looking at these sites when you begin dealing with property and land acquisition costs and clean-up costs. 

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Keep the Bravehearts in the Discussion

The Worcester Bravehearts, the 2014 Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) Champions in their inaugural season, will be entering their second season as the only local major sport team left in the city. Last season, they drew over 50,000 people to Fitton Field.

Murray said "We have a great product with the Bravehearts and they had a great inaugural season. The Bravehearts are locally owned and controlled, and they had a great product and strong attendance in their first year. It plays on one of the advantages that Worcester does have that a lot of places don't, is the amount of colleges and universities around and the large number of student atheletes we have here."


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