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Springfield Makes Pitch To PawSox

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City of Springfield
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Could a Boston Red Sox affiliate minor league baseball team someday play in a brand new stadium in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts?    As one city official said, “Don’t be afraid to dream.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has had discussions with the managing general partner of the Pawtucket Red Sox about relocating the Triple-A team from its longtime Rhode Island home to Springfield.

"There has been talk and chatter and I am open to formal discussions," said Sarno.

Sarno said he believes Springfield, which is home to one professional sports team – an AHL hockey franchise – would support professional baseball, especially a team of  budding Red Sox stars.

" If there is a right location and financially it makes sense for the city, then obviously I would pursue a Triple-A franchise here to have the Red Sox 90 miles down the road," said Sarno.

Sarno has met face-to-face with Larry Lucchino, one of the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox (known colloquially as the PawSox), and has also spoken with Boston Red Sox Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy, according to Springfield City Hall Communications Director James Leydon.

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Credit James Leydon
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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno gave a public shout out to PawSox managing partner Larry Lucchino at the "Globie" awards ceremony in Boston Oct. 6. ( pictured from l-r, Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, Lucchino, Sarno, Springfield Communications Director James Leydon)

Lucchino, the former Boston Red Sox President, was part of a group that purchased the PawSox earlier this year and announced plans to build a new stadium for the team in downtown Providence. Last month Lucchino announced the Providence stadium plan had fallen through.

The PawSox’ current lease at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket expires in 2021. The mayor of Pawtucket has made several appeals to Rhode Island officials to back a multimillion dollar plan to renovate the stadium. The team debuted in Pawtucket in 1970.

Worcester is also said to be wooing the PawSox to depart Rhode Island for central Massachusetts.

Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy floated the idea of building a baseball stadium in the north end of downtown Springfield during an economic development presentation earlier this year.  When he put up a slide showing an artist’s rendition of the stadium he urged the audience of 300 business and civic leaders to “Dream a little bit. Don’t be afraid to dream.”

The “Springfield Vision 2017” presentation depicted a baseball stadium along North Main Street at the approximate location where the city’s bus station is now.  The bus operations are to move to Union Station once a major renovation of that building is finished next year.

The international entertainment giant, MGM, which is planning to build a casino in the south end of downtown Springfield, might also have some influence in landing a baseball team in Springfield.  MGM President Mike Mathis, last month, said he was keeping a close eye on what was happening with the PawSox.

" For a long time we believed that opportunity was going to go to Rhode Island, but now it sounds like there is the potential for a new site and we are monitoring it," Mathis said.

Mathis said MGM is involved with promotions and sponsorships with Red Sox ownership to market the Springfield casino to potential customers in eastern Massachusetts.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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