The "Gateway City" is now the gateway to Major League Baseaball. Worcester will be the last stop for Boston's future stars before they step up to the plate at Fenway Park. Many, if not most people said it would never happen. They said Worcester was just being used as leverage to get a deal done in Rhode Island. It turns out the PawSox were interested in Worcester. In fact, they were very interested. What this means for the city and more specifically the Canal District we will see. We have already seen what the move has done for the psyche of the city. I have never seen as much Worcester pride as I have these past few days. The ballpark will be another great addition to the up and coming canal district and now fans across New England will come to Worcester and discover what they have been missing!
They're are so many people we can thank, but we have to start with Gene Zabinski's postcard campaign. Gene, who is the president of the Canal District Alliance, gathered 10,000 postcards from potential fans that were sent to the PawSox to show the excitement in the city about potentially landing the team. These postcards were said to have been kept in boxes next to the desk of one of the members of the front office as a reminder that they did have options. You can't ignore the impact those postcards had on the PawSox ownership. It's one thing to get a call from a Mayor asking for a meeting and another thing to have 10,000 people telling you that they would love to have you.
We obviously need to thank City Hall. From the City Manager, to the Mayor's Office, on down It's clear we had the right people in office at the right time. There was a time, not too long ago, that I wonder if the city would have even received a return phone call from Pawtucket. Thanks to a decade of solid growth, Worcester is now in a position to be taken seriously in deals like this. Ed Augustus negotiated for more than a year with one of the biggest names in the baseball world and was able to close the deal. At this point I'm wondering if Worcester should give Amazon another call. We also can't forget the Baker Administration. We saw in Rhode Island what happened when their state leaders weren't exactly bullish on the team's future in that state. Jay Ash the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development played a huge role and nobody at the State House is a bigger cheerleader for Central Massachusetts than Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Like I said we had the right people in office at the right time.
Back in the Woo, (Ya I said Woo) the Chamber of Commerce led by former Lt. Governor and Mayor, Tim Murray clearly did another great job of selling the city to out-of-towners. His love for Worcester shows in every interview. Murray was also instrumental in showing the team that the business community would get behind this club. Corporate sponsorship in Worcester was a major concern for the club, but when the city was able to get $3 million in corporate sponsorship pledges that concern was quickly erased.
I don't think we would be talking about the WooSox without the Bravehearts. The Worcester Bravehearts are proof that Worcester is a baseball town. The fact that attendance at a summer collegiate baseball game could rival a AAA baseball team (some nights these past two seasons in Pawtucket they came pretty close) is mind boggling. It's sad that the success of the Bravehearts could actually result in the demise of the franchise. I have to believe that the PawSox saw this team drawing 2,500-3,000 fans a game and have no doubt that a team carrying the Red Sox brand will easily draw 10,000.
Lastly, I think it's only right to give ourselves a pat on the back. Maybe we weren't part of the negotiation process. We didn't sign any documents or eat hot dogs with Larry Lucchino at Coney Island, but we ARE Worcester. When the team came to the city to walk the streets, attend Railers or Braveheats games, it was us they saw. They saw the excitement. They saw the pride we have in our city. Let's just say that got good vibes. Now we ask the City Council to finish the job and vote in favor of this proposal. A proposal that will take Worcester to another level. This guy cannot wait!