WORCESTER, MA — The Worcester Red Sox have to cover $17.3 million in new Polar Park costs, and the team wants the city to finance part of the overruns through a municipal bond.
City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. told City Councilors in a memo Friday about the overruns, and said the team would pay about $7.3 million out of pocket.
The team is asking Worcester to take out a 30-year bond to pay for the remaining $10 million in overruns — although the total cost of the bond would be $14 million due to fees and interest. The WooSox would be responsible for paying back the entire loan.
The city will also get extra concessions from the team, including extending the agreement not to relocate from 15 to 25 years, extending the team’s lease of Polar Park from 30 to 35 years and splitting some advertising profits with the city.
To pay back the bond, the team will also seek to boost revenue by increasing ticket prices. The “facility fee” would rise from $1 to $2 per ticket, bringing an additional $450,000 per year for the team, according to the memo.
The overall cost of the park has ballooned from the initial estimate of about $90 million before construction began. By fall of 2019, the cost had grown to about $100 million.
But in Augustus’ latest memo, the estimated cost was up to $116 million, which includes everything from construction to soil to police details. The city and Worcester Redevelopment Authority also paid $41 million to acquire land for Polar Park and relocate some nearby businesses.
Augustus said Polar Park is still on track to be complete by April, although the pandemic may still restrict attendance.
“In 2021, the Worcester Red Sox will begin playing baseball at Polar Park, and we hope that the public health conditions allow for thousands of fans to welcome our team in its inaugural year,” the memo said. “In addition to this project’s return on investment, we are most proud of the priceless memories that will be made at this new destination for affordable, family entertainment in the second-largest city in New England.”