Ahead of their upcoming move to Worcester, the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) have struck a partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) that will include planning for Polar Park.
The PawSox will spend two more seasons at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium before moving to Worcester’s Polar Park, slated to open in 2021. As part of the planning process for the upcoming ballpark, the team and WPI have reached an agreement that makes WPI the official Worcester Red Sox academic technology advisor. In that role, WPI will help the club design and develop Polar Park, playing a particularly key role in the ballpark’s technology initiatives.
The partnership was announced on Thursday by WPI President Laurie Leshin and Pawtucket Red Sox Principal Owner and Chairman Larry Lucchino.
“As Worcester’s hometown technological university, WPI shares the club’s vision and opportunity for Polar Park: to create a versatile regional sports venue that combines a traditional ballpark environment with modern, smart, and connected amenities,” said Leshin. “Polar Park and its surrounding district offer tremendous opportunities for faculty and students to develop new applications for innovative technologies that will improve the experiences of baseball fans and beyond. This is a win-win.”
“One of the many appealing assets in Worcester is WPI, a world-class technology leader,” Lucchino said. “We have long sought this collaboration to help this ballpark be innovative as well as friendly and beautiful. We look forward to WPI’s participation on the key technology fronts.”
Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year and continuing through the 2023 baseball season, WPI teams will work on projects in the areas of user experience, smart design, virtual reality, robotics, data analytics, and mobile app development. As part of WPI’s acclaimed project-based learning model, research conducted by undergraduate, graduate students, PhD candidates and faculty could include developing new ways to collect and use sensory data, accommodate persons with physical disabilities, and augment the game experience with virtual reality.
“We’re bringing together researchers with a wide array of expertise to develop new ways to apply innovative science and engineering to the creation of Polar Park,” said Wole Soboyejo, WPI provost ad interim. “We love the idea of connecting our faculty, students, and staff to this wonderful collaboration with the ballclub to help revitalize downtown.”
WPI will also work with the ballclub to implement STEM programming in the ballpark and the community. Other opportunities include incorporating educational and entertaining interactive exhibits during ballgames and other Polar Park events.
Construction on Polar Park is expected to begin this summer, and the facility is slated to anchor a larger redevelopment initiative in the city’s Kelley Square/Canal District area. Naming rights for the ballpark will come from Worcester’s Polar Beverages.
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