Polar Park Stadium and Ancillary Mixed-Use Development Will Transform Worcester’s Canal District

Brian A. Johnson
June 2019

Undoubtedly the most widely circulated, discussed, and shared story in the region concerns the Boston Red Sox Triple-A minor league affiliate moving from Pawtucket, Rhode Island to Worcester, Massachusetts.

Not only will the City be gaining a new sports team, Worcester and its thriving Canal District will also be welcoming a transformative mixed-use super project that will include:

  • Polar Park, a 10,000-seat baseball stadium
  • 140-room extended stay hotel
  • 110-room boutique hotel
  • 225 market-rate apartments
  • 96,000 square feet office building above
  • 50,000 square feet of retail & restaurants
  • 500+ above & below grade parking spaces

In addition to the construction of these physical assets, Worcester will be upgrading its infrastructure related to its road-system, public transit, pedestrian accessibility and safety.

Polar Park Stadium

Polar Park is the name of the 10,000 seat stadium that will house the Worcester Red Sox (increasingly referred to as the WooSox) beginning April 2021. Estimated to cost $101 million, Polar Park is slated to become the fourth most expensive minor league stadium ever. Initial renderings, available online in a master plan packet, imagine a park with brick detailing, surrounded by public space for guests to mingle. Tasked with turning a jumble of asphalt, gravel and rock off Madison Street into one of minor league baseball’s best stadiums is Worcester native Tommy Quirk, the president of architectural firm D’Agostino, Izzo, Quirk of Somerville (D’AIQ). Construction Manager for the Polar Park project is Gilbane-Hunt, a joint venture involving Gilbane Building of Providence, RI and AECOM Hunt of Los Angeles.

The funding formula for the ballpark calls for the City of Worcester to borrow $100.8 million ($70.6 million in general obligations bonds, $30.2 in bonds backed by team rent payments) to cover construction costs and PawSox owners paying $6 million toward construction. Rent payments are pegged at a little over a million dollars annually, for a total of $30.2 million over 30 years. Naming rights for the ballpark will come from Worcester’s Polar Beverages.

Madison Properties’ Mixed-Use Development

Two months ago, Madison Properties of Boston bought 18 acres of Canal District property for $6.1million. The purchase involved five parcels of land on Washington, Madison, Gold and Assonet streets in Worcester from Wyman-Gordon, an industrial manufacturer owned by conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. of Omaha. Led by developer Denis Dowdle, Madison Properties plans to clear the parcels to make way for first phase of development expected to be finished by early 2021, including 225 market rate apartments, a 140-room extended stay hotel, 110-room boutique hotel and 65,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Additionally, a five-story, 96,000 square foot office building will be built behind Polar Park’s left field. The property will sit above an underground parking garage and include a roof deck and retail space overlooking the playing field. A second phase will include 200,000 SF of residential, office and/or mixed use development.

A Transformative Super Project

Bringing the Triple-A affiliate of the world champion Red Sox to Worcester is a major coup for the City of Worcester. Just think about how often Worcester will now be mentioned in sports pages around the country when one of the Sox’s injured or up-and-coming stars plays here?

The economics are strong, too. When combined, the massive 650,000 square foot undertaking comes at a price tag of $241 million. The project continues the redevelopment of Worcester thriving Canal District and brings new reasons for tourists to visit, and businesses to relocate to Worcester.

Work is already taking place along Madison Street with the redesign of Kelley Square and underground utilities. Construction is planned to begin in July and will be on a tight 21-month schedule so as to be ready for the 2021 WooSox season.

During the months to come, I plan to follow this transformative super project, providing critical updates, with an eye towards how it can impact the larger Worcester economy, and especially the commercial real estate community.

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Should you have any questions about this article – or any commercial real estate matter – please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or call me at 508-635-6783.

2019-06-19T15:31:59+00:00