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Photos: Polar Park, Worcester’s sparkling new ballpark, is officially open

Opening Day at the new Polar Park for the Worcester Red Sox. Spectators watched from above home plate as James Taylor and his son Henry sang the National Anthem at home plate as Syracuse Mets and the WooSox lined the field.
Opening Day at the new Polar Park for the Worcester Red Sox. Spectators watched from above home plate as James Taylor and his son Henry sang the National Anthem at home plate as Syracuse Mets and the WooSox lined the field.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Professional baseball returned to Worcester on Tuesday.

The sparkling new Polar Park welcomed its first fans for the Worcester Red Sox home opener against the Syracuse Mets.

While the new stadium was built to hold 9,508 fans, a sell-out crowd of 2,377 was on hand Tuesday due to the state’s capacity limits.

But the smaller crowd didn’t dim the vibe in the Canal District, which is undergoing transformational growth with the addition of the stadium.

And city leaders are banking on their investment — they had to pony up a bit more than half of the building and land acquisition costs — to bring a wave of economic growth to Massachusetts’ second-largest city.

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“To me,” mayor Joe Petty told the Globe, “it’s worth every penny.”

Worcester has a deep baseball history. It was home to the first perfect game ever — on June 12, 1880, J. Lee Richmond allowed no hits, walks, errors, or batters for the Ruby Legs playing at Becker College — but hasn’t had a full-time team since the Worcester Tornadoes left in 2013.

Governor Charlie Baker(left), former Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez and Lt. Gov Karyn Polito fired the first pitch from the mound.
Governor Charlie Baker(left), former Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez and Lt. Gov Karyn Polito fired the first pitch from the mound.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate was prompted to move from Pawtucket, its longtime home, to Worcester after plans to build a new park in Rhode Island fell apart.

Want to catch the team in person? It’s a tough ticket — season packages already have a wait list.

See more from Worcester:

Fans watched the game from above.
Fans watched the game from above.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Former Red Sox great, Pitcher Jim Lonborg chatted with NBA Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy.
Former Red Sox great, Pitcher Jim Lonborg chatted with NBA Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
James Taylor and his son Henry Taylor sung the National Anthem.
James Taylor and his son Henry Taylor sung the National Anthem.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The WOOSOX lined up at first base during pregame ceremony.
The WOOSOX lined up at first base during pregame ceremony. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Fans watched the first inning from left field grandstands.
Fans watched the first inning from left field grandstands.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The team mascots including WOOSOX smiley(right) lined the infield.
The team mascots including WOOSOX smiley(right) lined the infield. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Helen Friel and her brother David Friel from Worcester enjoyed lunch atop the Hanover Deck before the game.
Helen Friel and her brother David Friel from Worcester enjoyed lunch atop the Hanover Deck before the game. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Nicole Petty took a selfie of her and her brother.
Nicole Petty took a selfie of her and her brother.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Tony Sweet from East Hartford, Conn. who used to live in Worcester stood with his wife Coleen as they watch the activity on the field.
Tony Sweet from East Hartford, Conn. who used to live in Worcester stood with his wife Coleen as they watch the activity on the field. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.