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Worcester Considers Ballpark Design Firms

New Worcester ballpark concept

A designer for the new Worcester, MA ballpark for the relocating Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) could soon be selected, as seven firms are being considered. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Designer Selection Board–along with city officials, as well as representatives from the PawSox and owner’s project manager Skanska USA Building Inc.–conducted interviews with prospective design firms for the new ballpark. The firms under consideration previously responded to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, and included Safdie Architects; Sasaki Architects; D’Agostino-Izzo Quirk Architects Inc.; JCJ Architecture; The S/L/A/M Collaborative Inc. — Pendulum Studio; Gensler Architecture/Design Inc.; and EwingCole.

The interviews were part of the process of selecting the firm that will design Worcester’s new ballpark. From here, the board is expected to rank the proposals and issue a recommendation to Worcester city manager Edward M. Augustus Jr.  A final decision is expected to be made soon, but the PawSox came away from the interviews happy with the presentations that were made by the firms. More from the Telegram & Gazette:

PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino said he was very impressed with the quality and experience of the design firms and the presentations they made.

“We learned something from everyone, whether it be large concepts or small details,” he said in an interview. “We have some very good options to choose from. It’s been a long couple of days but it was something that needed to be done so we can hit the ground running.”

Mr. Lucchino said he was also pleased with the progress made in selecting a project manager and moving toward hiring a design team for the project.

“We and the city seem to be in lockstep (on design issues) based on our preliminary discussions,” he said.

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. It is envisioned as a facility that will feature many of the amenities found in modern Triple-A ballparks–including social spaces and other unique seating options–while hosting events on a year-round basis. Under the current timeline, construction will begin next July and wrap up by March 2021.

The funding plan calls for the ballpark’s cost 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.

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