Back on April 29th, I wrote an article with the headline “PawSox Games At McCoy Seem Unlikely In 2020”. Fast forward essentially two months forward and that headline has become a reality, PawSox baseball will not occur at McCoy Stadium in 2020. On Tuesday, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) announced that there would be no 2020 MiLB season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For PawSox fans with tickets the ticket office will be reaching out with options that include refunds.
“Naturally, as baseball fans, we are deeply disappointed to not have a summer of PawSox Baseball, especially in our 50th-anniversary season,” said club president Dr. Charles Steinberg. “Yet all of us recognize that the health, safety, and well-being of our players, fans, and entire community are paramount. But we will keep the faith; this may not be how the story ends.
While Major League Baseball will occur, the financial reality that allowed it to do so is not a luxury minor league teams would have. MLB has the broadcast rights and the capital to fund a no-fan season while MiLB teams do not have either to fall back on as game-day revenue is a significant portion of their overall financial viability. In addition, if MiLB had decided to try and put on a season the teams would have had to provide their own players. The reason for that being MLB had stopped the working agreement with MiLB due to the national emergency and they would have to re-instate it and that seemed highly unlikely.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
MiLB has reaffirmed its commitment to returning in the 2021 season but there is certainly risk involved as a COVID-19 vaccine or therapeutic would have to be widely available to make that plan attainable.
It does appear that McCoy Stadium will have a baseball use in 2020 however. The Boston Red Sox are planning on using the Pawtucket based stadium as a training ground for their taxi squad. More on that in the coming weeks.
Last Of The PawSox?
This sort of brings us to the harsh reality that the last PawSox game in the team’s history us already in the books. Pawtucket is slated to move to Worcester and become the WooSox to start the 2021 season upon the completion of Polar Park. Opening the 2021 season at Polar Park is certainly not a given, construction was halted for several weeks due to COVID-19 and there is no guarantee that the MiLB season will start on-time in 2021.
Pawtucket may have to make alternative plans for 2021 that could involve an extension of their lease at McCoy Stadium. City officials have stated an willingness to have that discussion with the team in the past but are also looking at the future long-term use of the site.
“We continue to speak with the Mayor of Pawtucket, the Hon. Donald R. Grebien, and other public officials, about the uses this summer-and beyond-of McCoy Stadium. So many high school and college players have loved playing on this field through the years, and we will see if there is a way to continue to provide that opportunity. We have also loved welcoming so many Rhode Island families to enjoy Dining on the Diamond, and we will see if we can continue to offer that experience as well.”
One thing that is not contemplated yet is if the MilB season kicks off in 2021 with no fans and Polar Park is not completed the team could elect to still play in an uncompleted Polar Park as not everything has to be completed for that to occur.