View story at metrowestdailynews.com
By Bill Ballou
Photo: GateHouse Media/Matthew Healey]
The WooSox have started selling tickets for the 2021 season, and Saturday hosted a sneak preview of the ballpark at the Mercantile Center courtyard downtown.
WORCESTER — Polar Park is not open for business, but its tenants are.
The Worcester Red Sox or whatever they may be named — bet on Red Sox — have started selling tickets for the 2021 season, and Saturday hosted a sneak preview of the ballpark at the Mercantile Center courtyard downtown.
Team President Larry Lucchino made an early appearance and potential customers arrived at a steady pace. Some had their checkbooks open, like Paul Croteau of Auburn, and their money was accepted.
“I bought season tickets just now,” he said. “I’m gonna look for a friend to split them with — I bought two tickets. I’m very, very excited about it. I’m 64 years old and I plan to keep working until I’m 70. This team will start when I’m 66, so it’s perfect timing for me.”
The team has not officially unveiled the details for Polar Park but displayed a rendering of what it should like on an easel and also had a 3D computer presentation that provided fans with a more detailed overview. Baseball is not, in general, a cutting-edge game but Polar Park could be a cutting-edge ballpark.
As envisioned, its capacity of 10,000 will include only about 6,500 traditional fixed seats. The rest of the capacity will be taken up by open spaces strategically placed around the ballpark.
“The main thing we want to do is create a social experience,” said Rob Crain, the team’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Major league baseball is a front-of-the-seat experience, fans watching every pitch from the edge of their seats. Minor league baseball is more a back-of-the-seat experience, and one of the things Janet Marie Smith has done a tremendous job with is creating gathering places in the places where people will naturally want to gather.”
Triple A baseball requires ballparks to have a capacity of 10,000. That’s one of the reasons McCoy Stadium was remodeled in the 1990s when Worcester had its first flirtation with the franchise. That does not require 10,000 seats, though, and the International League is OK with the Polar Park concept according to team officials.
“The new ballpark in Wichita will be like this,” Crain said, “and we’ve visited there. It has been done in other places.”
Coincidentally, Wichita will be the new home of the Triple A New Orleans Baby Cakes, a team run by former Pawtucket Red Sox General Manager Lou Schwechheimer.
Saturday’s rendering of Polar Park shows that the front, with the main entrance on Madison Street, will be glass and steel and resemble the Higgins Armory building. Right field will be a cozy shot from home plate with a 21-foot high “Worcester Wall” parallel to Summit Street, the wall being blue and not green. There will be seats on top of it.
The lights are proposed to be heart-shaped; the home bullpen will be connected to the dugout and not in the outfield, with standing room above it. An office building will be in left-center behind fan seating with balconies overlooking the field and the video board — twice the size of the one currently at McCoy Stadium — will be in left field and trains will run beyond the foul pole.
“I bought tickets on the first-base side,” Croteau said, “so I’ll be right behind the Red Sox dugout and also be able to see the trains, I believe.”
Another customer was Angel Nieves, a Clinton native who has relocated to the Sutton-Millbury town line.
“I’ve been to a few games in Pawtucket, but not many,” he said. “I’ve always been a big Red Sox fan, back to the days of Carl Yastrzemski. In fact, when I was in Cub Scouts, I saw Ted Williams’ last home run.
“I’m here with my girlfriend, Patricia Mitchell. She’s getting season tickets. I think this will be a beautiful ballpark, a big attraction for the city, an new injection of energy for the city, create more interest, bring more people here.”
Crain characterized the weekend’s events as a soft opening for the ballpark. The team announced its pricing on Thursday and will officially begin early-bird season ticket sales at 10 a.m. Monday. It will sell tickets online at www.polarpark.com, by phone at (401) 724-7300 and at McCoy Stadium, 1 Columbus Ave., Pawtucket.
The six season-ticket packages available will have tickets costing $11 to $32 a game. Packages will range from $770 to $2,240 for the season. Buyers will need to make a 25% deposit, with the remaining amount due in 2020. Pawtucket Red Sox season-ticket holders and members of the Worcester Red Sox Booster Club will have priority.
“I’m very excited about what I’ve seen of the ballpark,” Croteau said. “I can’t wait for them to play some high school football games here, or playoff games for high school baseball. It’ll all be right in our backyard.”
The backyard is scheduled to be ready by April 2021, and fans have started signing up for the best seats on the swing set.