Minor League Baseball has placed diversity and inclusion at the forefront of its growth strategy. We strive to create an industry where all identities are represented, welcomed, valued and empowered to enhance our league's culture, creativity, innovation and comprehensive service to the communities we occupy. We strive to be the most fun and inclusive league in all of sports and entertainment.
While conversations regarding diversity and inclusion happen daily in the Minor League Baseball office and among our 160 clubs, we recognize the need to do more to elevate the voices and stories of those who currently work in our industry. There is something uniquely powerful about sitting face-to-face with someone and listening to his or her experience.
The goal of this series is to spotlight the people, programs and stories in the baseball industry that champion diversity and inclusion and advance the mission of Minor League Baseball's diversity initiative. This week we profiled Pawtucket Red Sox senior director of events Grace Eng.
Pawtucket Red Sox senior director of events Grace Eng challenges herself every day to generate revenue for her club through non-baseball events. The PawSox host a variety of events, including concerts, corporate parties, motocross tournaments, weddings, football games, and career and college fairs, to name a few. Inclusive practices are essential to her work, ensuring that events cater and are accessible to a large audience.
"Whenever we are planning for an event, we always think from the fans' perspectives and the experience they will encounter from the moment they enter the gates to when they exit them for the evening, and that means every fan from every walk of life," said Eng. "We frequently engage with the community leading up to and after an event to ensure they feel heard and know that their comments matter, because without them the event wouldn't happen."
Eng and fellow Pawtucket Red Sox staff members at the groundbreaking ceremony for Polar Park, the club's new home in Worcester, MA starting in 2021.
Striving to create a variety of experiences that represent and welcome everyone in a community is a challenge. In a city like Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and the surrounding region, there's a variety of racial, cultural and socioeconomic factions to consider. Eng must consider how she can make her ballpark accessible in ways that are relevant to various pockets of the community. Hosting a Sober Music Festival last fall was one of her proudest accomplishments, as it welcomed a segment of the community to the ballpark in a way that honored their journey.
"We had our first ever Sober Music Festival in September 2018 where we did not sell any alcohol during the concert and celebrated recovery for those who have battled addiction. It was an incredible event. We received a great response from the sober community that they felt welcomed and respected regardless of where they were in their journey."
The Pawtucket Red Sox are in the midst of a transition, as earlier this month, on July 11th, the club broke ground on Polar Park, which will be the PawSox's new home in Worcester, Massachusetts, beginning in 2021. As one of the most senior staff members with the club, Eng has played a significant role in the stadium design, working with architect Janet Marie Smith and club Chairman Larry Lucchino, to build a state-of-the-art, year-round, special events facility.
Fitz and the Tantrums perform on the main stage at the 2018 Recovery Fest.
"Sitting with the architect and our chairman and sharing my thoughts and ideas about what the ballpark should encompass to be a year-round facility for special events was incredible, and they are implementing my ideas. It's humbling to be running a six-figure, revenue-generating department and contributing to a state-of-the-art facility with features and details that will make us one of the premier and most inclusive venues in New England. To say I'm excited is an understatement."
As a woman working in a historically male-dominated industry, Eng recognizes the stereotypes she's breaking by playing such a key role in decision making, refusing to let typecasts dictate her success or growth.
"I always knew I wanted to work in this industry. I have been playing sports since I was five, so I guess I had the mindset going into it that I was going to be around male figures. What I did not do is allow for criticism because of my gender to stop me from achieving expectations. I used it as a motivator to show my contribution and worth to the organization."
McCoy Stadium set up to host Nitro Circus, a nationwide extreme motorsports tour.
Her drive and her tenacious energy have brought Eng early success in her career, including a promotion to a senior level role this season, just four years into her tenure. Her work is her advocacy; achieving so much success at a high level signifies to other women looking to break into sports that it is achievable.
"I think the lack of female representation comes from the old myth that only men belong in sports, and that is definitely not the case anymore. Women have proven to be driven, insightful and competitive with their male counterparts, and I think it creates a more diverse and inclusive industry that, as a result, makes each sport more wholesome."
When asked what advice she would give young women looking to break into the industry, she focused on working hard and striving for excellence.
"My advice for young women entering the business would be to never settle for anything. Always look to expand your horizons, continue to educate yourself, be open to others and their input, and ask for help and advice. Most importantly, always make sure you love what you do, because then you'll be at your absolute best."