We have some details on what a new Worcester ballpark for the relocating Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) may look like—but with an opening in the Massachusetts city scheduled for 2021, nothing is final.
What we do know from Thursday’s groundbreaking: the ballpark will be designed to suit the site’s topology, and that it won’t be a replica of Fenway Park.
The ballpark is being built on an irregular site in downtown Worcester, and the ballpark will hug the natural contours of the site. That means fans will enter the ballpark at different levels: there’s a 40-foot difference between the highest point in the concourse and a surrounding street. Entering a ballpark at different levels isn’t new: SunTrust Park was built to accommodate the Cobb County topology with different levels at different entry points, for instance, but it’s a common design method dating back to the Polo Grounds and beyond.
As for departing from Fenway Park as a model: as of right now, there’s no Green Monster replica in left field, a departure from the first set of renderings. Right now McCoy Stadium lacks a Green Monster replica, but there are others in the Red Sox MiLB system. Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs (Class AA; Eastern League) sports a Maine Monster, which borrows from the Green Monster. The Maine Monster is slightly farther from home plate than Fenway’s Green Monster (315 feet in Portland, 310 feet in Boston) and much shorter: 160 feet long in Portland, 240 feet long in Fenway Park. But both are the same height: 37 feet. The Green Monster at Fluor Field, home of the Low-A Greenville Drive, is shorter than Fenway’s, but it too sports seating at the top. And, of course, the Red Sox’s spring-training home, JetBlue Park at Fenway South, sports a Green Monster replica, complete with a manual scoreboard once used in Boston. Interestingly, the Red Sox own their Salem (VA) High-A affiliate and have not installed a Green Monster replica there.
But the site configuration is leading the Worcester folks to look at one unique offering that ties to the Green Monster: A Worcester Wall in right field, according to the PawSox’s Dan Rea.
One more interesting development: the current plan calls for a building a la the B&O Warehouse at Oriole Park or the Western Metal Supply Co. structure incorporated into Petco Park in left field, complete with its own seating.
Some of this design is bound to change, as nothing is totally locked down as of yet. But we’ve not seen a new International League ballpark in several years, since the 2014 opening of BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. (Before that it was the opening of Huntington Park in Columbus and Coolray Field in Gwinnett in 2009.) BB&T Ballpark is regarded as a model for new ballpark designs these days, and it will be interesting to see how the new Worcester ballpark fits within today’s new-ballpark trends. Today’s new ballparks are turning into more than just a place to watch baseball, with lots of social spaces and big pipes pumping plenty of data into and out of the ballpark.
This article first appeared in the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Ballpark Digest newsletter.