The City of Worcester released three new renderings of Polar Park, as officials broke ground Thursday on the future home of the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate.
The planned 10,000-seat ballpark is slated to open in April 2021 — when the Pawtucket Red Sox begin playing in Worcester — and city leaders are billing it as the centerpiece of a larger redevelopment project by Worcester’s Canal District.
“This is a very special moment in Worcester’s history—a line of demarcation separating Worcester before Polar Park and Worcester after Polar Park,” City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said Thursday.
PawSox officials say the $90 million ballpark will combine the intimacy of Fenway Park with elements that evoke Worcester’s history and culture; Polar Park, of course, is named after the well-known Worcester-based seltzer company. And while the city has previously released a number of ballpark design renderings, the new illustrations unveiled Thursday color in some more details.
The redevelopment plans have called for a hotel overlooking the ballpark from left field, very similar to the set up of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, New Hampshire. However, the new Polar Park renderings envision a roof deck on top of the hotel, from which spectators could get a unique vantage point of a game.
There’s also a giant video board in left field alongside what appears to be a giant Polar Seltzer can — not unlike the old Coke bottles that used to be perched over the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
As much as Polar Park looks to draw from the historic Boston ballpark, the renderings show a lower, more traditional left field fence with bleachers and a grassy berm, like at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, for fans to sit. In right field, the situation looks a bit different.
Polar Park is being built into a hill with a 40- to 50-foot grade change from one end to another. How are they dealing with it? Janet Marie Smith, the PawSox’ ballpark design advisor, says seating will be “literally carved into the unusual topography of the site.” While fans entering the stadium from the home-plate side will enter the ballpark from street level, visitors will walk down into the center- and right-field seats.
The new renderings also show a tall right field wall reminiscent of the Green Monster (though, at least in the illustrations, the walls are a blue-green color). Behind the right field fence appears to be standing room and pavilion areas — somewhat similar to Baltimore’s Camden Yards, on which PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino and Smith also partnered to design.
PawSox officials have stressed that they want the modern stadium to offer more “flexible seating” and open social areas where fans can congregate and move around. The renderings show several levels of such spaces along the first and third baselines.
According to Smith, the team plans to utilize the streets immediately surrounding the park as “ideal urban appendages.” In other words, they’re hoping to create a vibrant street scene, with vendors and activities, outside the stadium. To use another Fenway Park comparison: Think Jersey Street (formerly known as Yawkey Way) with a Worcester twist. The team is even planning a small museum inside Polar Park featuring bits and pieces of Worcester’s surprisingly rich baseball history.
“Worcester has so many points of pride—from a baseball standpoint, a cultural standpoint, and a multi-cultural standpoint,” Smith said. “We relish the opportunity to weave these elements into a vibrant city. We are jumping aboard a moving train, and we love that opportunity.”