Officials: Options aplenty for McCoy, but answers to be determined

Officials: Options aplenty for McCoy, but answers to be determined

Soccer franchises being very aggressive

PAWTUCKET – Officials say they are receiving quite a few inquiries about possible reuses for McCoy Stadium, despite its current tenant, the Pawtucket Red Sox, still being at least two years from moving to Worcester, Mass.

Various soccer clubs have been the most aggressive in suggesting McCoy as a potential new home for their franchises.

“Soccer clubs are eager and there is a great market here for the sport,” said Dylan Zelazo, director of administration for Mayor Donald Grebien.

Some baseball teams have also come knocking, said Zelazo. He said there’s been talk about baseball, soccer, lacrosse or a mix of uses at McCoy once the PawSox leave, and the stadium could also support local high school soccer, football and other sports.

That said, if rehabbing McCoy proves cost prohibitive, meaning it’s far more expensive than just building a new facility from scratch somewhere else, the best option might be to build a facility somewhere else, he cautioned.

“That’s a public discussion that has to happen,” said Zelazo, telling The Breeze he expects the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. to issue a request for proposals in the near future on what to do with the stadium once the PawSox leave. Commerce is being helpful in the process, he said, but there have yet to be substantive conversations.

If it’s determined that an overhaul of the stadium isn’t financially feasible, he said, there’s also opportunity to consolidate city services at the Columbus Avenue/Division Street site, including schools, school administration, public safety departments, and other city services.

“Those are all in play as well,” he said, though funding such a central complex would also need plenty of planning on how to fund it. That “larger plan” needs plenty of work, he said, with multiple city/school buildings in the downtown area up for consideration for potential closure if better uses are found for those properties.

Also discussed in recent months, said Zelazo, are some uses other than sports, including a regular concert venue of between 10,000 and 12,000 seats. There’s a gap in the area for a facility of that size, he said.

Landing a Major League Baseball-affiliated Double-A or Single-A team to replace the PawSox would require the team to grant a waiver to operate at McCoy, a concession team executives have not said they’ll give, but an independent league team would not be subject to that restriction.