Pawtucket orders study of potential ballpark locations

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — As the Pawtucket Red Sox played their home opener at McCoy Stadium Monday night, questions remain about how long the team will call the 75-year-old ballpark home.

A study released earlier this year found McCoy is in need of $68 million in renovations, while it would cost $78 million to tear the park down and build a new one in its place.

The team’s ownership announced last week it hopes to build a replica of Fenway Park in Pawtucket, complete with a Green Monster.

“This is our home. This is where we want to stay,” said PawSox President Charles Steinberg. “This is where we hope we will be for generations to come.”

City and team leaders are currently looking at two sites – a wooded area on Taft Street known as the “Tidewater site” – where the stadium would be built along the Seekonk River – and where the iconic Apex building now stands in the shadow of I-95.

Steinberg said the team plans to leave it up to the city to decide which site is best.

Pawtucket’s Director of Administration, Tony Pires, said the city has commissioned an economic impact study of the two locations.

“Our suspicion is because of the proximity to the downtown area that the Apex site might be the most effective,” he added.

Pires said they’ll be talking more about the specifics of the proposal once the results of those study are released, which he expects will be in the coming weeks. He also said public hearings will be a big part of the process.

“There are folks like me that just love baseball,” said Pires. “But at the end of the day it’s a business decision, and it’s a business decision on behalf of the taxpayers of the state and the city.”

As for how much money taxpayers could potentially pay, neither Steinberg nor Pires had concrete details.

“There’s no financing plan, but you can be sure the PawSox would pay their fair share, even though it’s a public park,” said Steinberg.

The ideal situation, according to Pires, would be for the city to look a little different by the start of next season.

“Fans coming to McCoy Stadium to see Opening Day in 2018 would be able to drive by a site where there are cranes in the sky and that ground has been broken and construction has begun,” he said.

The PawSox owners have said the plan is to stay at McCoy Stadium through the end of their lease, which expires in Jan. 2021.