Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Not Providence?

Before the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series, modern day Red Sox fans were among the most pessimistic, dour and grumpy fans in sports. We might cheer wildly and then curse colorfully over the same play, knowing that great highs and bone-crushing lows were just part of following our beloved team. Since the great win of 2004 — and the unexpected bounty of 2007 and 2013 that showed us that good things can happen in Boston — most Red Sox fans have mellowed a bit, but some times our true colors still shine through.

The sale and expected move of the Pawtucket Red Sox has brought out the pre-2004 fan in many Rhode Islanders. Rather than rejoice that the team was purchased by a local group that wants to move the team to Providence, some are worried that they might have to pay to park at the new stadium. Rather than thinking about how a downtown stadium could boost the economy and draw other events like concerts and college football games, some are complaining that this is not how the land was “supposed” to be used. All concerns are legitimate of course, but I’m still looking at a glass that’s better than half full since we didn’t wake up to a headline that read, “PawSox Moving to Worcester.” Yet.

That’s right, folks. This is not a done deal. Like every other business that makes a decision to move to or away from Rhode Island, the new owners of the Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate are going to do their “due diligence” and decide whether or not it makes sense for them to set up shop here. All news reports indicate that McCoy is not an option for the new owners: their vision does not include Pawtucket. It’s sad and unfortunate but all the sweet sentiment about Pawtucket won’t change the cold hard fact that attendance at outdated McCoy is down — and plummeting — despite the fact that they have won two Governor’s Cups and their big league team has won three World Series in 10 years.

The other cold hard fact is that hoarding all of the 195 land for developers and corporate giants might not be the best course of action. The proposed stadium would use only a small piece of the developable 195 land (with the bulk of the proposed site on current Brown property and in designated park space) and could serve as a catalyst to other development. As the conversation about the use of the land continues, we should probably remember that while a stadium is not a high-tech manufacturer, it is far better than the overgrown, trash strewn area now known as the 195 land.

As the process moves forward and we gather all the facts, let’s take a page from the 2004 Red Sox team. They were eternally optimistic and scoffed at the Curse of the Bambino. Their “Why Not Us?” shirts could easily be edited to say “Why Not Providence?” and as we consider the facts we can remind ourselves that sometimes good things can happen — even in Rhode Island.

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