The anticipated move of the Red Sox’ Triple A affiliate from Pawtucket, R.I., to Worcester for the start of the 2021 season may be in jeopardy.
One day after Governor Charlie Baker extended the order for non-essential businesses in Massachusetts to suspend operations until at least May 4 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Worcester suspended construction on Polar Park. Construction on the ballpark — which is slated to open as the home of the WooSox for the start of the 2021 season — was suspended on Wednesday, with plans to secure the site on Thursday and Friday.
“All of us with the Worcester Red Sox recognize what a difficult and unusual time we are living in, and all of us should recognize that the health of our community, our country, and the world are what’s most important,” the Worcester Red Sox said in a statement. “We want nothing more than for Polar Park to be a point of pride for the people of Worcester and the Commonwealth — including the many local skilled construction workers who are putting their heart and soul into this ballpark. We concur with our partners that a temporary halt gives our community the best opportunity to permanently contain this destructive virus.”
It remains to be determined whether the delay will prevent Polar Park from opening on time. In mid-March, PawSox executive vice president Dan Rea said that while the construction schedule for the park was ambitious, the schedule included some flexibility, with the hope of at least a few days and possibly as much as a few weeks of time to work out any kinks in the park before the start of the 2021 campaign.
As of Wednesday night, team officials were working to figure out the implications of the delay. If the ballpark in Worcester is not ready to open for the start of the season, Pawtucket’s mayor, Donald Grebien, didn’t rule out the possibility of an arrangement that would allow the PawSox to remain in McCoy Stadium — the home of a Red Sox minor league affiliate since 1970 — into the start of 2021.
"The PawSox have a contract to the end of this year,” Grebien wrote in a text. “There are many factors that would need to be considered if they were to need an extension, including their continued commitment as good community partners."
The PawSox have planned a yearlong celebration of their 50 years in McCoy Stadium for the 2020 season, though the start of the minor league season has been suspended indefinitely amid the pandemic.
Dan McGowan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.