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Red Sox working to bring MiLB back to Lowell

Lowell officials have engaged a consultant to tally the costs of bringing Minor League Baseball back to LeLacheur Park, as the Boston Red Sox eye a move of the Salem Red Sox to Massachusetts.

The Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) were among the casualties when MLB contracted MiLB to 120 teams, but the Red Sox did not abandon the market, saying that they would work to keep baseball in Lowell. Of course, the easiest way for the Red Sox to assure baseball in Lowell in 2021 and beyond would have been requesting MLB grant a spot in the 120 to the Spinners. Indeed, there were plenty of instances where the field of 120 was filled by specific MLB requests; plenty of teams made the cut with a facility in roughly the same shape as LeLacheur Park. But the Red Sox also wanted to keep the Salem Red Sox in the system, and the MLB-owned team made the cut, not the non-MLB team.

The Spinners were launched by Drew Weber and later owned by Main Street Baseball, where owner Dave Heller led a series of sorely needed improvements to LeLacheur Park, including new LED lighting and new turf. But the LeLacheur Park lease called for an affiliated team, so the ballpark has sat empty — until now, as Lowell looks at spending upwards of $10 million on ballpark improvements. From the Lowell Sun:

Areas targeted for improvement include the home and visitor clubhouses, locker and weight rooms, concession areas, playing field, irrigation and drainage systems, lighting and seating.

On Aug. 18, the city put out a request for proposals seeking engineering and design services for an accelerated feasibility study, which would identify and design all improvements necessary to bring the stadium into compliance with the standards of Major League Baseball, and how much they would cost. A site inspection will be held Tuesday morning, and all bidders must submit their proposals by Sept. 1.

Donoghue said she hopes to have a design firm selected by mid-September, and schematic designs completed by the end of the year. Ideally, construction would begin early next year and be completed by March 2023, to allow for a team to start playing that April, she said.

The current plan calls for that team, we’re told, to be the relocated Salem Red Sox. There is only one entity that can bring Minor League Baseball to Lowell, and that’s the Red Sox, and we don’t see it very likely that the BoSox not want to control an MiLB licensee in its back yard. With other A-level team sales and possible relocations in the works, it’s hard to say exactly where this team ends up in terms of level.

RELATED STORIES: Red Sox: We’ll fight to keep baseball in Lowell; Fight to Save Lowell Spinners Goes National; Contraction in Flux, as Lowell Spinners May Escape Dream League

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