Attleboro, MA could be an alternative for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) as they continue their new ballpark search, though the team is emphasizing its focus on Pawtucket.
With their lease at McCoy Stadium set to expire after the 2020 season, the PawSox are pitching the construction of a new ballpark on the site of an Apex department store in Pawtucket. The team and some local officials have touted the plan as a potential catalyst for development in downtown Pawtucket, though Rhode Island and city leaders continue to debate the plan.
An alternative could be Attleboro, where the site of a former Cumberland Engineering plant off of Interstate 95 is reportedly in play. Several months ago, we hinted at Attleboro as a possible candidate to land the team, noting the option of a Massachusetts city that borders Rhode Island and would allow the team to continue serving Pawtucket/Providence market. It would also allow the PawSox to keep another MiLB team out of Pawtucket and Providence due to territorial rules.
When commenting on the team’s search, PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino confirmed that Attleboro is one of the alternatives that has been identified if the push in Pawtucket is unsuccessful. His comments, however, also emphasized that the Pawtucket proposal is the team’s goal. More from The Providence Journal:
Asked how seriously the team is considering that site, Lucchino replied: “I’m not going to sort of begin to rank the [sites]. We’re trying to get something done at the Slater Mill site. That is our goal, and I don’t want to be diverted to discussions of other sites.”
Team consultant and longtime political lobbyist Guy Dufault said the Attleboro location is the old Cumberland Engineering manufacturing site. As to how seriously the team is considering it, he said, “I don’t know.”
Cumberland Engineering once operated inside a century-old mill building just west of Route 95, along the S curves that snake through Pawtucket and Attleboro. Back in the mid-1990s, the company was creating machines to shred waste plastics for recycling.
The “fairly large site” is perhaps 8 to 10 acres and is now empty, after the company closed years ago and the building was razed, Attleboro Director of Planning and Development Gary Ayrassian said Friday. Ayrassian said he knew nothing of the PawSox owners’ examination of the property, and he did not know if the team has spoken with anyone in city government.
While the team’s public comments have stressed its focus on the Pawtucket proposal, the Attleboro site could have some challenges. The Cumberland Engineering plant was demolished in 2015, after the city condemned it, and discussion of redeveloping the site has taken place. However, at least one previous proposal for the site came up short, with a lack of highway access being one issue, as the The Sun Chronicle explains:
In 2015 there was a tentative proposal to build a water park on the property, but nothing came of it.
A lack of highway access was cited as one of the reasons.
That same lack of access could be a problem if the property moves higher on the PawSox radar screen.
The proposal in Pawtucket calls for the ballpark to be constructed as part of an $83-million project that would include $71 million in public bonding, with the team paying $33 million and the city and state combining for the remaining $38 million. Worcester, MA is one of the other locations that has been linked to the team in its ongoing search.
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