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.
“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.
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:
Katie McInerney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.