In planning their upcoming Worcester, MA ballpark, the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) will lean heavily on the expertise of executive Janet Marie Smith.
Smith has been involved in some of the most notable ballpark projects in Major League Baseball over the last few decades. That includes the creation of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as well as renovations of Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Ed Smith Stadium, spring home of the Orioles. She’s currently Senior Vice President of Planning and Development for the Dodgers, and has worked with PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino on various projects in the past, including the original planning for Camden Yards and renovations to Fenway.
Now, Smith is slated to bring that experience to Worcester. The six-acre Kelly Square ballpark, tentatively named Polar Park, would open for the 2021 season and serve as the centerpiece of an 18-acre, 650,000-square foot mixed-use development. That could make it a unique facility with some design challenges, as it will have to fit into its tight urban setting while offering a wide array of amenities and the ability to host events on a year-round basis. In helping to plan the final design of the new ballpark (the rendering above is preliminary), Smith will work with the club to make a facility that is unique to Worcester while drawing on her past experiences to inform key decisions. More from the Telegram & Gazette:
“We want to think about it responsibly because it’s an urban park. A baseball-only park is important for the game, but on the other hand, being in an urban environment you have an obligation to bring life every day.”
Between now and when construction begins, ownership will be seeking public input on what on what the new ballpark should look and feel like. It is an important part of the process, and past history shows that fans come up with some valuable suggestions.
“Some of our best ideas have come from fans,” Smith said. “The one Larry and I talk about most is when we were planning Camden Yards, one of the things a fan mentioned was wanting to be able to see the numbers of who is warming up in the bullpens, and that’s where we got the idea of raising the bullpens.
“We’re hoping that during the design phase we have a number of forums in Worcester to hear from fans and we hope we get the same things.”
The PawSox’s ownership announced in August that it had secured a letter of intent with the city to bring the club to Worcester. However, the agreement is not final at this point, as it still needs final approval of the Worcester City Council. Additionally, the plan still needs to be approved by the International League and Minor League Baseball, with Major League Baseball asked if it has any objections.
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