PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) A group of investors headlined by Red Sox president Larry Lucchino announced Monday they had purchased the Pawtucket Red Sox and would relocate the team to Rhode Island’s capital.
Lucchino and several Rhode Island businessmen purchased the Triple-A baseball club for an undisclosed price from the widow of its longtime owner.
Investor James Skeffington confirmed the new owners are planning to move the team to Providence by spring 2017 and are eyeing land along the Providence River for a new ballpark.
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”We think an urban ballpark is going to be a great success and add visibility to the life of Providence and the state of Rhode Island,” Skeffington said.
He said the new owners plan to design and build a new ballpark using their own funds but would ask the city and the state for support. He said he didn’t know how much building a new ballpark would cost because it hasn’t been designed yet, but that other Triple-A baseball stadiums have been built recently for $60 to $70 million.
The new owners said they decided to move the team to Providence because making improvements to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket would be expensive. The stadium was built in 1942 and renovated in the late 90s.
”The problem is the infrastructure isn’t there anymore,” Skeffington said. ”Times have changed, ballparks have changed.”
Skeffington said he would like to rename the team the Rhode Island Red Sox but nothing has been decided yet.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the prospect of moving the team to Providence represents a significant and exciting development opportunity.
The investors bought the team from Madeleine Mondor, the widow of longtime owner Ben Mondor, who owned the team from 1977 until his death in 2010. Lucchino is chairman of the ownership group but will stay on as Red Sox president.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebian said there is both an economic and psychological impact to the departure, but said the city has not done an economic analysis.
”The hard thing is, as a Pawtucket person, I went to the stadium with my grandparents and parents, and now I enjoy it with my kids,” Grebien said.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said, ”The PawSox are an institution in Rhode Island, and my main goal is keeping them in the state.”
The team has played in McCoy Stadium for more than four decades. They won the 2014 International League championship.
The stadium is the site of the longest game in professional baseball history, a marathon matchup between the PawSox and the Rochester Red Wings that spanned two nights over two months in 1981. Future big-league star Wade Boggs collected four hits in 12 at-bats for Pawtucket the first night, while legendary Cal Ripken, Jr. went 2 for 13 playing third base for the Red Wings.
The team has long been involved in schools and charities in the Pawtucket community, including the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, where team members have been volunteering for several years.
”We would hate to lose them,” said Adrienne Marchetti, executive director of the soup kitchen. ”They’re a vital part of the community.”