Leaders Make the Case for PawSox to Stay in Pawtucket
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Speculation has been mounting that the Pawtucket Red Sox could move from the city if it is sold, following a recent Boston Globe article that said members of Red Sox ownership were in negotations to buy its AAA affiliate.
Now support is mounting from city and local sports industry leaders to make a case for keeping the 2014 league champions at McCoy stadium, which it has called home for over 40 years.
"Let's assume the sale takes place. This upcoming season would still happen, and I'm sure we'd do something," said Tony Pires, Director of Administration with the City of Pawtucket, who helped orchestrate $17 million in renovations at McCoy in 1999. "To use a baseball analogy, we're in pre-game warm ups right now. We're not even in the batter's box, and we don't know yet who we're even playing," of who could buy the PawSox -- and what their intentions might be.
Pawtucket recently extended its lease on McCoy Stadium in March 2014 to the State of Rhode Island, who subleases the balkpark to the PawSox, through 2021, with an option for a five-year extension.
PawSox by the Numbers
The Pawtucket Red Sox have been a Red Sox affiliate since 1970, and according to baseball statistician David Kronheim, the PawSox have seen the "most amazing" increase in attendance among minor league teams that date back to 1974.
According to stats compiled by the Kronhiem, attendance at McCoy topped 500,000 in 2014 for 16 straight years -- only Louisville, Columbus, Buffalo, and Indianapolis have longer streaks. Since 1984, attendance is up 316,879, and the PawSox had the "most amazing increase" in attendance among teams that go back to 1974, with attendance up 435,397 in the 40 year span.
"Anytime you can draw in on average 7500 people for games, it brings brings value to the state," said John Gibbons, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission. "That type of business doesn't necessarily draw in hotel use, but I know those facilities nearby do well when the PawSox play, and I know they bring in tax dollars every night with the sales at the park."
"The teams that come stay in hotels though, and every team that comes stays, so on average, you have a couple a thousand hotel room nights through the season, and all star games -- that's additional revenue," continued Gibbons. "It just brings people into Rhode Island on a regular basis. I has an impact like a P-Bruins, but the PawSox have more impact as they have more games."
According to the recent Providence Business News Book of Lists, the PawSox ranks as the state's fifth biggest attraction as measured visitors, behind Twin River, Waterfire, Newport Grand and the Newport Mansions.
Where Could it Go
If the PawSox were sold, the speculation swirls around where that might be.
"I've heard Foxboro," said Providence City Council President Luis Aponte. "The PawSox go way beyond the borders of Pawtucket -- it's been a Rhode Island institution of decades. I can't imagine how devastating that would be to the city of Pawtucket and its economy. We stand in Providence to be of help any way we can, and know Governor Raimondo is taking it seriously."
"I've heard New Bedford, Fall River, Worcester...even Providence has been broached before," said Gibbons. "I've heard Providence tossed out before as well. We have the ideal situation where we have the minor league team next to its major league [team], and most of our people are Sox fans, but nothing's to say that another triple A franchise couldn't move in here. We'd like the Sox affiliation, but don't forget, the PawSox came from Louisville."
Pawtucket's Pires warned about too much speculation at this stage.
"Anybody who pretends to know about how to retain a franchise, be wary," said Pires. "This administration knows that the current owner management and brand has been family entertainment, and it's been relatively inexpensive, and that's what we keep in mind. It comes down to if there is new ownership, what's their long term goal. They're not necessarily buying bricks and mortar -- they're buying a brand."
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The Pats have also locked up their 12th straight season of ten wins or more, continuing to prove year in and year out to be an incredible model of consistency.
13. E.C. Matthews
2014 saw the emergence of URI guard E.C. Matthews as one of the superstars in Rhode Island College basketball.
At the end of the 2013-14 season, Matthews was named A10 Co- Rookie of the year, averaging 14 points per game.
Prior to the 2014 -15 season, Matthews was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list, flagging him as one of the best guards in the country.
E.C. Matthews has averaged 17 points per game so far this season to lead URI.
12. RI College Basketball Coaching in good shape
2014 has seen the rise of college basketball in Rhode Island because of the great coaching.
Led by Ed Cooley, the Providence Friars won the Big East Championship, Brown University, under head coach Mike Martin found it's way back into the post season, qualifying for the Collegeinsider.com tournament.
It's been a good year to be a Rhode Island basketball fan.
11. CVS Classic Donates $1.4 Million to Local Charities
In 2014, the CVS Classic raised a record $1.4 Million and donated it to 80 charities across southern New England. The classic has raised $18 million in total since it started in 1999.
This years field included players such as Matt Kuchar, PGA Champion Jason Dufner, Steve Stricker and Masters Champ Zach Johnson.
The 2015 CVS Classic will be held from June 28 to June 30 at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington.
10. Bryce Cotton
The Friars 2013-14 season will never be forgotten, thanks in very large part to Big East Tournament MVP, Bryce Cotton.
Cotton led the Friars the entire season, playing just about every minute of every game and in some cases willing the Friars to a win.
Bryce Cotton averaged 21 points and six assists per game including a 36 point performance against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.
Cotton did not get drafted but did end up signing a contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
He is currently playing in the NBA D-League with the Austin Spurs.
9. 25 Greatest Olympic Athletes from RI
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With all the crimes piling up on NFL players, GoLocal took a look at the crimes committed by New England Patriots while on the team since 2000 - the so called Golden Era. Here is the full list.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was first published September 11th at 2:30 am.
7. FIFA World Cup
The U.S.A. men's national team captivated the country in the summer of 2014 with their run in the FIFA Wold Cup. They nearly beat Portugal in pool play, ending it in a 2-2 tie.
Team U.S.A. advanced out of pool play and into the elimination round but lost to Belgium, despite 16 saves from Tim Howard.
The success of the U.S. continues to help grow the game not only hear in New England, but nationally as well.
6. Revolution Make it to MLS Cup Final
The New England Revolution advanced to the MLS Cup Final for the fifth time in franchise history after defeating the New York Red Bulls 4-3 on aggregate.
The Revs faced the LA Galaxy in the final and lost a heartbreaker, 2-1 in OT.
The Revs run to the finals captivated all of New England and has greatly helped grow the game of soccer.
5. Friar Legend Marvin Barnes Passes Away
"We just learned that we've lost one of our all-time Friar greats, Marvin Barnes '74, a PC Hall of Famer and an NBA and ABA Legend" read the Providence College Facebook page.
Marvin Barnes died at the age of 62 in early September.
PC retired Barnes jersey in 2008 and he still co-holds the single game scoring record with 52 points.
4. Providence Sky Chiefs
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The Sky Chiefs are an expansion team to the American Basketball Association (ABA) are owned by Giovanni Feroce, the CEO of BENRUS.
The Chiefs played, and won their inaugural home opener in early November.
For more information on the Sky Chiefs, or to get tickets, click here.
3. Cumberland Little League World Series, Dave Belisle Speech
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After they were eliminated, head coach Dave Belisle gave one of the most memorable speeches of all time to his team.
The speech went all over the country and helped get Belisle nominated for the 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
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1. Providence Friars Win Big East Championship
The top story of 2014 is the Providence Friars men's basketball team winning the Big East Championship for the first time in 20 years, beating Creighton 65-58 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Bryce Cotton led the Friars in the game with 23 points and was awarded the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the tournament MVP.
The Friars went to the NCAA tournament but lost a heartbreaker, 79-77, to North Carolina.
It was a memorable run nonetheless for the Friars and one that will not soon be forgotten.
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