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Worcester Approves Ballpark Financing

New Worcester ballpark concept

Plans for a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark in Worcester, MA are moving forward, as the city council has approved a loan authorization for the project.

The six-acre ballpark, tentatively named Polar Park, is slated open for the 2021 season and serve as the centerpiece of an 18-acre, 650,000-square foot mixed-use development.

Under the financial terms of the proposal, the total cost of the ballpark is expected to be between $86 million and $90 million, with the city of Worcester borrowing $100.8 million ($70.6 million in general obligations bonds, $30.2 in bonds backed by team rent payments) to cover construction costs and the PawSox owners paying $6 million toward construction. Rent payments are pegged at a little over a million dollars annually, for a total of $30.2 million over 30 years. Worcester officials say increased tax payments generated from the project, including additional development, will cover the difference. Naming rights for Polar Park will come from Worcester’s Polar Beverages.

The council voted on September 12 to grant initial approval to loan orders of $100.8 million, and followed that with Tuesday night’s decision to authorize the loan orders. The vote, which fell 9-1 in favor of approving the loan orders, allows the ballpark planning process to move forward. More from the Telegram & Gazette:

Approval of the loan authorization enables the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to proceed with hiring a project manager and design services for the ballpark effort, to be constructed on a 6.5-acre site in the Kelley Square area, north of Madison Street.

The ballpark will be owned by the city.

While three parties – the WRA, the city and the ballclub – will be involved in overseeing the stadium project, the redevelopment authority is considered the lead because the project is in an urban renewal district.

The WRA will also have to amend the boundary of its Downtown Urban Revitalization District by expanding it to facilitate land-takings that might become necessary. As part of the ballpark project, the city, through the WRA, is looking to acquire seven private properties for an entrance to the ballpark off Green Street.

Construction of the ballpark is currently slated to begin next July, and conclude by March 2021.

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