Springfield’s minor league baseball vision

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Pawtucket Red Sox are looking for a new home. Rhode Island lawmakers said “no” to their proposal to have taxpayers pay for a new stadium in Providence.   22News looked into the chances of the PawSox ending up in Springfield.

The idea of minor League baseball in Springfield comes up now and again.  With a sliver of hope that a Red Sox minor league affiliate may be moving, it’s a conversation the city and state should at least have.

Could the Peter Pan Bus Station on Main Street turn into MGM Park? The idea isn’t that far fetched.  The Pawtucket Red Sox, now owned by Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, say “Plan A” is to move to Providence.

“We’re talking to Rhode Island first and exclusively right now,” said Lucchino in late May.

The PawSox owners have asked Rhode Island for $120 million to build a new stadium.  Spending that type of public money in western Massachusetts is something that would have to be publicly discussed.

“I think that’s a conversation we need to have. Baseball to Springfield would be exciting, but we have to see if it makes financial sense”, said State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, (D) Springfield.

In Springfield’s Vision 2017, an Economic development dream board,  they included a baseball stadium where the Peter Pan Bus Station is located.  Peter Pan owner Peter Picknelly wasn’t available on Monday, but the city has said that they would like his bus company to move to Union Station. Picknelly has said in the past that it doesn’t make sense unless his bus station property is sold.

If a private investment is needed, MGM is at least trending in this direction. MGM just bought the naming rights to a 5000 seat “AA” baseball stadium in Biloxi, Mississippi across from their casino there. That stadium opened on June 6th.  So they will have a test case before any potential decisions would be made.

MGM CEO Jim Murren told the Las Vegas Review-Journal they are increasing their focus on non gaming attractions.  Casinos on the Las Vegas strip made just 36.7% of their revenue from gaming in fiscal year 2015.  14% was from “other revenue”, which included entertainment and retail.

MGM Springfield also has a working relationship with Fenway Sports Management, part of the PawSox ownership group.  MGM Springfield will be the presenting sponsor of the “Globies” in October. It’s the Boston Globes sports awards.  The Globe is owned by Red Sox owner John Henry.  The event will be co-produced by Fenway Sports Management.

No one from Springfield is admitting to talking with the PawSox at this point and as Lucchino said, their number one option is to stay in Rhode Island.

Although, MGM could have a better opportunity to help the city’s American Hockey League team.  MGM is building an arena in Las Vegas and is hoping to draw an NHL team.  Murren said the chances of getting an NHL team are 80-90%.  The NHL team that is having the biggest problems with its city and arena contract is the Arizona Coyotes.  Arizona is the Falcons new NHL partner.  This is strictly speculating, but if Arizona were the NHL team to end up in Las Vegas, keeping that affiliation agreement with Springfield in place would make a lot of marketing sense for MGM.

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