In a move that addresses a roughly $30-million increase in the total project cost, the Worcester City Council unanimously approved a revised Polar Park funding plan Tuesday.
Polar Park is being built for the Worcester Red Sox (Class AAA; International League), the franchise that will play its final season as the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2020 before relocating to the Massachusetts city. Last month, it was revealed that the total cost estimate for the project had risen by about $30 million, including a $9.4 million increase in construction costs for Polar Park itself and an additional $20 million for development costs, including property acquisition, site preparation and relocating area businesses. To cover those increases, Worcester officials and WooSox ownership floated a plan that calls for the team to cover the additional $9.4 million to cover the ballpark, while the city picks up the increase in development costs.
That plan had gained traction in recent weeks, leading up to Tuesday’s 9-0 vote by the council to approve the revised funding model. More from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
As part of its vote 9-0 vote, the council agreed to advertise an additional $31.99 million loan order that will be used to pay for higher than anticipated land acquisition and site preparation costs.
That money will also be used to fund the equipping and furnishing of the city-owned ballpark, which is already under construction, and pay for other ancillary redevelopment projects in and around the facility, including roadway and utility improvements.
The council also approved tax relief plans for four components of the private development being done by Madison Downtown Holdings LLC that will be occurring as part of the ballpark project and overall redevelopment of the Kelley Square and Canal District area.
Those four components alone total $72.7 million worth of private development and are expected to generate as many as 515 new full-time jobs.
Polar Park is being built as part of a larger 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 city is counting on new tax revenues from private development in the area to help pay off costs on the project, along with parking revenue from Polar Park events.
Rendering courtesy City of Worcester.
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