Worcester officials are ready to break ground on a stadium for the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate, more than a year after it was announced that the minor-league team would move to Massachusetts.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the multi-million dollar Polar Park took place Thursday afternoon, marking a historic moment for the city.
It is also a milestone for the Red Sox organization, whose Triple-A team has played in Pawtucket, Rhode Island since 1973.
"All the folks that we needed to put in place to design this have been working hard for the last few months and now we’re ready to start putting shovels in the ground and start building," said Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus. "This really is going to be a moment in Worcester’s history."
The $90 million project was approved with a 9-1 vote in September of 2018. City council members authorized a loan of more than $100 million for the construction of the 10,000-seat ballpark.
Business owners have expressed excitement for the expected influx of people in the city, but have also voiced concerns over parking during construction. To remedy that, the town plans to have shuttle buses run from parking lots to establishments in the immediate area.
John Guertin has been selling Worcester Red Sox merchandise and will continue to do work with the team.
"I think it’s gonna be a home run," he said. "We will be doing work, some awards that they'll be giving out - say to people who throw the first pitch."
Polar Park will be the centerpiece of 18 acres of land that will include new restaurants, shops, 250 apartments and a 150-room hotel. It is expected to be completed in spring 2021.
Some residents say they are worried of the unintended consequences like a higher cost of living and doing business but others say they are excited about the future of the park in the heart of the Commonwealth.
"I think this area is really booming right now. So it's an exciting time for Worcester," said area resident Michael Gladstone.
"I'm a little concerned about Kelly Square but I think it's gonna be really great and really fun," added Brian Reilley of Worcester.
The PawSox’s move from Rhode Island was announced in August 2018.
Although the ceremonial groundbreaking takes place Thursday, the official groundbreaking takes place on Friday.