Worcester Hires Architectural Firm to Design New PawSox Stadium
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
The announcement comes less than a week after the City of Worcester released a video illustration of the ballpark.
“This process reflects an extraordinary union of world-class architects with local roots. To have an accomplished Worcester native as a lead architect on the ballpark, and to have an Olympic-quality architectural firm expand the reach of the ballpark into the Canal District, is an exciting marriage that continues Worcester’s ascent. With such intimate knowledge of Worcester, of Fenway Park, and our streets and parks, our City is poised to create a great ballpark and an even more vibrant downtown,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr.
The principal in charge of Polar Park is DAIQ founder, architect, and Worcester native Tommy Quirk, AIA.
The park is scheduled to open in Worcester’s Canal District in April of 2021.
Developing the Park
DAIQ will provide architectural design services for the ballpark. Sasaki will focus on urban design and landscape architecture for the surrounding neighborhood as the City moves forward with plans to break ground for the public ballpark in July of 2019.
The team will work together to restore the long-dormant site in the middle of Worcester’s Canal District, integrating baseball, urban parks, and mixed-use development.
A primary goal of the project is to create parks and public places throughout the district.
DAIQ and Sasaki
DAIQ is based in Somerville and is best-known for providing comprehensive architectural services for the Boston Red Sox during the multi-year plan to renovate and expand Fenway Park.
DAIQ’s ongoing 16-year effort to update Fenway includes improvements to the ballpark's infrastructure, life safety, concession areas, restrooms, high definition video boards and advertising signage. Also included were renovated press areas, premium seating, luxury suites, club seating and lounge areas and the popular Green Monster Seats. Construction was accomplished over multiple off-seasons, allowing Fenway Park to remain fully operational during the baseball season.
DAIQ was also the lead design firm for a multi-year renovation of Dodger Stadium, the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Highlights to that project were new clubhouses, added field level seating, wider concourses, new scoreboards, plazas and concession areas.
Other high-profile projects spearheaded by DAIQ were the conversion of Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium into Turner Field, the former home of the Atlanta Braves. DAIQ also led a major expansion and renovation of the historic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA that was accomplished in time for the 100th Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day of 2014.
Sasaki, based in Watertown, is an acclaimed design firm with roots in urban planning and landscape design. The firm will concentrate on the masterplan and open spaces including all streets and parks both within and near Polar Park.
Sasaki won an international design competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Green.
The design included more than 1,700 acres of woods and wetlands, and the Olympic Forest Park is now Beijing’s largest public green space.
The firm’s work includes Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park which provides spectacular views to Boston Harbor and the popular “Lawn at D” next to Boston’s Convention Center. They recently created a multipurpose waterfront park in Cincinnati adjacent to the baseball park and football stadium.
Related Slideshow: Who Lost the PawSox? August 2018
Starting from nearly day one, the new ownership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox -- a collection of some of America’s most wealthy businessmen -- saw their investment in the team as a “gift” to Rhode Islanders and that their vision of a mega-stadium in Providence was a windfall.
The ownership group’s early strategy was to demand more than $140 million in subsidies and tax breaks and that led to strong public backlash.
The ownership group -- with a collective net worth of $6 to $8 billion, later blamed the late Jim Skeffington for the misstep, but the collection of owners all thought that for a small investment in the PawSox -- $2 million to $3 million per owner, reportedly, the windfall potential was tremendous -- and all financed by taxpayers.
Raimondo’s Flip Flop
As the Providence proposal took on water Governor Gina Raimondo reversed field and went from supporter to opponent on the financing structure.
Raimondo, who had once chided critics about complaining about the move from Pawtucket to Providence, flipped on the ownership group and ultimately opposed the Providence financing deal. The implications were two-fold.
First, it raised questions with owners about who to negotiate with and how to negotiate with Rhode Island’s government in good faith. Second, it did tremendous damage to her already strained relationship with Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello. Her change left him the last official holding the political hot potato.
After Jim Skeffington’s death, former Boston Red Sox top executive Larry Lucchino took over the ownership effort to site a new stadium.
Lucchino, who had built stadiums in Baltimore and San Diego for major league franchises, had a formula. While his ownership group in Boston had failed to build a new Fenway Park in Boston due to public opposition, Lucchino put forth a series of demands and, more so than any factor, lead to the team’s stadium efforts failure.
First, he would not wait until after the 2018 election. Second, he refused to have the owners take on the final financial backstop. Third, he refused to acknowledge that times had changed — that minor league baseball’s popularity which peaked in the 1990s was long past.
Public Support — No Millions for Billionaires
At the end of the day, Rhode Islanders, by an overwhelming majority did not want to invest taxpayer dollars in a public stadium.
According to two GoLocal polls conducted by Harvard’s John Della Volpe which asked, “The Rhode Island General Assembly is in the process of negotiating a $40 million public financing deal with the Pawtucket Red Sox for a new stadium, hoping to bring a vote before the House and Senate this summer.
In general, do you favor or oppose the use of public funds to help finance a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox?”
Net: Favor 33%
Strongly favor 13%
Somewhat favor 21%
Net: Oppose 59%
Somewhat oppose 21%
Strongly oppose 38%
Don't know 8%
Lack of Functional Leadership
In the end, the dysfunctional relationship between Raimondo, Mattiello, and Ruggerio doomed a viable solution — maybe from the beginning.
Instead of a united front by the three top political leaders, the owners got greedy and tried to manipulate the division of the state’s Democratic leaders.
Democrats Raimondo, Mattiello and Ruggerio are as aligned as Iraqi ethnic groups Kurds, Sunnis and Shias. Yes, they are all Democrats, but their trust and ability to co-govern often fails.
“Trust and reliability are the key ingredients in any public-private deal. Polls show about 60% of Rhode Islanders opposed the project which reflected in part a lack of trust in elected officials. The owners grew not to trust Rhode Island pols because of the way the process and negation unfolded at the State House,” Gary Sasse of the Hassenfeld Institute tells GoLocalProv.
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