Labor Day 2020, a day that was supposed to cap off a 50-year run at McCoy Stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. The PawSox were supposed to play their final season in Rhode Island this season but COVID-19 had other plans in mind with the Minor League Baseball season being completely cancelled.
McCoy Stadium didn’t sit vacantly this Summer however with the PawSox allowing fans to have dinner on the diamond and the historic stadium also played host to the Red Sox alternative site players who trained at the Triple-A venue.
McCoy has held a special place in my heart since I started covering the team in 2017 and over the years I have seen some great moments on and off the field. Between meeting Red Sox greats like Fred Lynn and Roger Clemens to chatting with second basemen Dustin Pedroia. McCoy has been home to baseball in Rhode Island and in the 21st century it’s player development output has aided Boston to four World Series championships.
Worcester Will Be Dealing With Fall Out For Years After Pandemic Ravages Minor League Baseball
Starting in 2021 the PawSox will become known as the Worcester Red Sox or WooSox for short. That being said, it’s not going to be all sunshine and daises at Polar Park which is coming in over budget and will still have to deal with the COVID-19 fall-out in Minor League Baseball. Starting 2021 on time is not a guarantee and if it does start there are no guarantees the minor league system will look the same as it did in 2019. Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball must agree on a new working agreement with their current agreement not only being suspended due to the pandemic but also was set to expire at the end of the 2020 season. It is no secret the big league owners want a serious contraction in the minors and they will likely get it. Minor League Baseball estimates a significant portion of their clubs could fold due to the lack of revenue and serious financial assistance may be needed to keep them afloat. Not the strongest negotiating position for the minor leagues. That being said, Triple-A is likely safe.
For Worcester, the question will be how quickly will fans feel safe to return to venues and what potential restrictions may still be in place for the long-haul. That paired with rising costs in building the venue and an economic downturn changes the break-even cost on the entire project. What looked like a good deal now looks like an investment into a declining sport with a very uncertain future paired with major economic woes.
While looking at Pawtucket’s attendance numbers over the years is a tough comparison to what Worcester may do they don’t exactly bode confidence in this organization’s ability to draw in a sport that is having a hard time in capturing America’s interest. Pawtucket’s attendance decline can either be attributed to declining interest in the sport or a lack of investment and upkeep of the venue since the new ownership group took over. Either way, not a good look.
At the end of the day we wish Worcester and the WooSox nothing but the best. Trifecta Sports will continue it’s coverage of the team in some sort of capacity and hopefully professional baseball will return one day to the site of baseball’s longest game. But for now, how about America’s next past-time coming into the Ocean State….