The Worcester Red Sox, the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A minor league affiliate, christened their new home in May 2021 at Polar Park. With construction costs topping $100 million, the facility ranks as one of the most expensive minor league ballpark ever built.
The 9,508 capacity Polar Park was designed by D’Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects (DAIQ) and constructed by Gilbane/ Hunt Joint Venture with precast seating and riser units manufactured by Strescon Limited.
Polar Park is now home to the relocated Pawtucket, Rhode Island Red Sox. In 2018 the team owner announced plans to relocate the team to Worcester, the second-most populous city in both Massachusetts and all of New England. The new stadium broke ground in July 2019 and local soft drink company Polar Beverages secured the naming rights.
Strescon Limited fabricated and installed precast concrete components that included various bleacher seat profiles, precast stairs and steps. In addition, solid precast pieces (slabs and panels) were used to create the “Worcester Wall” in right field, reminiscent of the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
Torsion bleachers were designed to cantilever high over the infield behind home plate, to give spectators a better view of the game. Strescon’s Bedford plant also contributed manufacturing capabilities and together both plants were able to produce and deliver 160 precast components in less than 50 days. To facilitate quick installation, Strescon cast in items for other trades, including drains, wireless access points (WAP), safety rail embeds, hand rail embeds and various sleeves and box outs.
Construction at the triangular 6-acre site was halted for several weeks during the pandemic. The project team was still able to complete the ballpark in time for the start of the minor league baseball season in May 2021. The tight schedule allowed for just 23 months to meet opening day with precast concrete components supporting the bowl and the fans.
Working alongside visionary ballpark architect and planner Janet Marie Smith (now with the LA Dodgers), the design of the new stadium was steered by DAIQ. DAIQ is best known for capital improvements at the historic home of the Worcester team’s major-league counterpart, Fenway Park.
In addition to the cost of the stadium itself, the City of Worcester has committed to millions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades around the facility. The state will also contribute to the project including a parking garage and housing subsidies for the planned mixed-use development. Construction has not yet started on the stadium-adjacent projects.
Construction costs rose significantly due in part to the contaminated soil found at the abandoned industrial site, a culvert that needed to be removed, and businesses that were relocated and their buildings demolished.
The ballpark was scaled back in size and design features. An elaborate brick façade was exchanged for a light blue metal panel exterior.
The home of the WooSox will have more than 6,000 seats supported by precast concrete riser units. In addition to the seating areas, there will be plenty of standing room and a berm beyond the fences for lawn seating. The new minor league athletic field will also host concerts and other non-sporting events
The steeply sloped site featured a grade change that is reflected in the location of the entry gates. The stadium footprint is located in a triangular shaped and tight site. One level up at the main concourse, the Plymouth Street level is 21 feet above street level. The top level is Summit Street which puts that concourse 30 feet above street level. There are entry gates on all three of the ballpark’s levels.
The main structure contains the seating bowl, concession stands, upper-level lounge and suites and wraps around foul territory. The geometry of the seating bowl is different than at most modern-day parks, which tend to curve around home plate. Here the front of the stands are perfectly perpendicular to a line that would stretch from home to center field.
The role of the stadium has evolved beyond sports. It's an entertainment experience supported by crowds, music and food. As such, the new Triple-A Farm Club of the Red Sox is to be the catalyst for future urban planning and revitalization of the area. The urban renewal project will connect historic Canal District to downtown Worcester. The precast concrete components support the fan base seamlessly and sustainably.