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Polar Park Cost Estimate Rises


The cost estimate of Worcester’s upcoming Polar Park has risen by $9.5 million over its initial estimate, with Worcester Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ownership to cover the increase. 

Currently under construction, Polar Park is scheduled to open in 2021 for the current Pawtucket Red Sox, who will relocate to Worcester following the 2020 season. The ballpark was initially slated to cost roughly $90 million, but that figure has risen to $99.5 million under the latest estimate, with an overall increase in construction costs among the main factors behind the higher price tag.

While it is now expected to be built at a more expensive cost, Polar Park remains on schedule to open for the WooSox in 2021. Team ownership will cover the $9.5 million increase on the ballpark’s construction cost through additional lease payments, making its share of the project $43.4 million. Additionally, city officials are having to account for a roughly $20 million increase in development costs, including property acquisition, site preparation, and relocating area businesses. While the higher price tags have prompted the parties involved in the project to renegotiate some terms, with an amended plan requiring city council approval, city officials emphasize that they still plan for the project to be paid off without diverting existing taxpayer dollars. More from the Telegram & Gazette:

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. emphasized Friday that the ballpark project “will continue to pay for itself” and that no existing taxpayer money will have to be diverted for it.

Instead, the project will continue to be primarily funded through new tax revenues generated from the new private development that will be taking place in the area of the ballpark, as well as through parking revenues from events at what will be a city-owned ballpark.

In addition, the city plans to expand the area of the district in the Kelley Square/Canal District area where the incremental increase in tax revenues generated by private development will be used to cover the debt service on the bonds sold by the city to finance the construction of the ballpark.

The manager said the revised pro forma for the project still depicts that estimated revenues for the Ballpark District are in excess of estimated expenses by nearly $23.5 million over 30 years of the bonds.

Polar Park is being built as part of a larger $240 million redevelopment of the surrounding Kelley Square/Canal District. New development is slated to include an office building behind the ballpark’s left field wall, two hotels and residential buildings, and a mixed-use building that will feature retail, office, and lab space.

The PawSox will return to Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium for 2020, before making the move to Worcester. When Polar Park does open, it will be the International League’s first new facility since the Charlotte Knights opened BB&T Ballpark in 2014.

Rendering courtesy City of Worcester. 

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