The deal is done. The city of Worcester has reached a deal to bring the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Boston Red Sox's top minor league affiliate to town. Bob Ryan is a longtime sports columnist for The Boston Globe. He spoke with WGBH's All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard about the move. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Barbara Howard: So the team, it's been in Pawtucket 45 years since 1973. So why is it relocating?
Bob Ryan: It's all about money, it's all about politics, combined, it's all about the need it has felt for a new baseball park to replace McCoy Stadium, which was built in 1942. The stadium, in almost any modern way, is very antiquated, yet it is charming and part of the attraction, which I don't think that the current ownership understood or that people understood at all.
To me, this is a very sad day for Pawtucket and Rhode Island, as well as, of course, being a happy day for Worcester.
Howard: In making the announcement this afternoon, Paw Sox chairman Larry Lucchino talked of building what he termed a quote, “innovative stadium” to open in 2021. Now what do you know about that? What does he mean?
Ryan: Minor league baseball parks have undergone a tremendous transformation in the last 30 years or so. All over America there are brand new state-of-the-art ballparks with luxury boxes that mimic the Major League stadia and all the amenities that modern people expect for a night out.
It's no longer about simply having a place to house a baseball game. It's about providing an entertainment venue for people to have a night out, as opposed to just going to see a baseball game and McCoy Stadium did not begin to provide that kind of opportunity.
Howard: Well, the proposed stadium is to be built by a design and construction firm that also had a hand at Camden Yards in Baltimore. What can you tell us about Camden Yards for those who haven't been there?
Ryan: Camden Yards is the model for every baseball park that's been built post-1991 when Camden Yards came into being. It replaced those awful, dreaded, cookie cutter multi-purpose stadia of the 80’s and 70’s that were built all across America to provide a place for both baseball and football to take place, and it provided luxury boxes that were closer to the field. It was a retro-park with modern amenities. There hasn't been a park built in America, major or minor league, that is not a knockoff in some form, some way of Camden Yards.
Howard: Are you excited that this one might look sorta like that?
Ryan: Well I'm not excited. I don't think it's needed in the minor league. I’m an old-fashioned purist. I liked the older parks better. I'm an aficionado of minor league baseball, probably going back to my childhood, I've been to 50 stadiums, maybe, around the country over the years, and I like the old ones. I have no need for this extra layer of entertainment. I go for a baseball game.
Howard: Are you for it or against it?
Ryan: I'm against it. There’s no real reason for this to leave Pawtucket on the basis of support, and also a lack of understanding as to what the charm of that ballpark is. And I don't wish any ill will in Worcester — good for Worcester. But this is not a good day for baseball, it is not a good day for Pawtucket. It's a sad, sad day. Trust me on this.
Howard: Okay thanks for joining us, Bob.
Ryan: You're welcome.
Howard: That's Bob Ryan, longtime sports columnist for The Boston Globe, speaking with us about the news today that the Pawtucket Red Sox will likely be in Pawtucket no more. The city of Worcester making the announcement it has reached a deal for the team to move to Worcester. That agreement, of course, still needs the approval from the Worcester City Council and from Major League Baseball.