As speculation continues about a potential Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) move to Worcester, questions are being raised about whether it would hurt the Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League).
The future of the PawSox is very much up in the air at this point. Legislation that provides financing for a new downtown Pawtucket ballpark was signed by Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo in June, but that does not assure that the facility will become a reality. The PawSox have not committed to remaining in Pawtucket, and have been ironing out the details of the proposal.
In the interim, reports are indicating that Worcester could end up landing the team and constructing a new ballpark. A relocation is not at all firm at this point, but if the PawSox do move to Worcester, they will be just 35 miles from the Spinners and LeLacheur Park. While the Spinners have been a success over their years of existence, some wonder whether the presence of a Class AAA club playing out of a new ballpark in a nearby market could cut into the team’s fan base. However, former Spinners owner Drew Weber is confident that a Class AAA team in Worcester would not harm the Spinners. More from the Lowell Sun:
“My feeling is Lowell is still, to so many people, the hometown team,” said Drew Weber, who owned the Spinners for nearly two decades before selling the team in 2016. “People who might be parents now were kids who were brought up on the Lowell Spinners. Of course they’re going to go to a Worcester game (if the PawSox move), but that’s not going to hurt the Spinners, because nobody goes to every Spinners game.”
Whether the PawSox are in fact going to leave Rhode Island remains unclear. Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo reported late last month, citing anonymous sources close to the process, that signs point toward a move to Worcester.
Worcester has made pitches about the move, hosting top officials from the Pawtucket team for negotiations….
Dave Heller, the Spinners current owner, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. However, last year when Worcester began its pitch he said he would expect only “a little” impact on the team.
Dave Heller purchased the team from Weber in 2016, and has made some upgrades to LeLacheur Park. The team has played there since 1998.
As for the PawSox, there is much that remains to be determined about the team’s future. The legislation for the new Pawtucket ballpark that passed in June left open several uncertainties, as it withdrew state backing of the bonds and instead put it on the back of bondholders, which is likely to result in higher borrowing rates. That is one of the issues that is being sorted out in ongoing discussions with Pawtucket officials, along with the specific scope of a tax increment financing district envisioned as fulfilling the city’s portion of the funding plan.
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