Worcester mayor: Do whatever it takes to land PawSox (but this doesn’t mean, like, subsidies)

The sports move-threat game requires two elements, or really three: 1) a league with monopoly control over franchises, so that losing a team means it’d be tough to recruit a replacement; 2) a semi-viable city to threaten to move to; and 3) city officials there willing to start a bidding war for your team. The first is easily met by most North American sports leagues, the second for most minor leagues (since the bar for “semi-viable” is so much lower), and the last, in the case of the Pawtucket Red Sox, has a willing volunteer in Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, because man, just listen to this guy:

“The City Council does hereby support in principle the relocation of the Red Sox Triple A baseball team to Worcester including building a stadium to accommodate this team and further, request the City Manager do all that is reasonably in his power to facilitate this move,” Mr. Petty wrote in a proposed resolution the council will take up Aug. 15.

In an interview Monday night, Mr. Petty said the resolution is meant to show the Red Sox Triple A affiliate that the city and its people are enthusiastic about professional baseball returning to the city.

“We have a chance to get them here, and we just want to convince them Worcester is the place to be,” Mr. Petty said.

“All that is reasonably in his power”! Does that include “fire and fury“?

The mayor said the statement is not meant to imply financial backing for a stadium from the city. He said any discussion of funding or stadium location would be premature since the two sides have not even commenced negotiations.

Of course not! “Including building a stadium” would never imply spending public money to build a stadium, because that would just be silly! Besides, the mayor was directly asked about public money and responded with this firm statement:

“We’re not going to negotiate in the press,” Mr. Petty said when asked whether he supported the idea of public dollars going toward a deal.

It’s unclear whether the city council will go along with Mayor Petty’s proposal — one councilor, Konstantina B. Lukes, told the Worcester Telegram she was worried not only by the blank-check nature of the resolution but that “we may be the bride left at the altar after we’ve been courted,” which is a perfectly cromulent fear. But man, is Petty ever going for Cartoon Blowhard Mayor of the Year. I don’t know when Joe Quimby is up for reelection, but he could face a tough challenger here.

2 comments on “Worcester mayor: Do whatever it takes to land PawSox (but this doesn’t mean, like, subsidies)

  1. Went to a PawSox game last night at McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket. Anecdotal evidence (me looking around at the non-crowds of spectators) suggests that game attendance is way down this year. The think-tank I belong to (friends and family–occasional but at least 3 games a year) feel this is at least in part due to the new ownership group’s utter contempt for the team’s fan base. From day one they’ve been threatening to–and actively working towards–abandoning us for their idea of greener pastures. They want a new, urban style ballpark and they want it built on public subsidy. A hateful group of rich, entitled brats.
    The former owner, Ben Mondor, was a true class act. He loved his team, he loved Pawtucket and he loved the fans who showed up to his games. Over four decades he built up a beloved institution. Unfortunately, as most of us will, he passed away.
    Why should we give a damn about this team if we know that the owners will kick us to the curb and padlock the gates of McCoy Stadium the instant they get their chance to do so?
    McCoy Stadium is awesome. It’s a perfect fit for MiLB. It’s an hour’s drive to the Big Show at Fenway Park. It holds lots of people comfortably. There’s good baseball there! It had a thorough renovation just about 15 years ago. There is nothing significantly wrong with it!! IT’S FINE!!! LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE!!!!

  2. It is very unlikely that Worcester resembles a credible relocation threat. Worcester as a city simply doesn’t have the money to build a AAA-ready stadium, meaning it needs a lot of help from the state, which has historically been reluctant to fund stadium projects.

    Hartford and Portland are the only two cities with that kind of heft, and we’ve seen how one of those turned out!