Batting Around: PawSox staying put

Stadium updates from Pawtucket, Richmond, Lansing, Columbia

Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium, site of the longest game in baseball history, is the oldest park in Triple-A. (Ken Jancef/

By Benjamin Hill / | March 13, 2014 10:00 AM ET

The Pawtucket Red Sox play in 72-year-old McCoy Stadium, the oldest facility in Triple-A baseball. Nevertheless, they won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

The PawSox, as they are referred to colloquially, have reached a lease extension agreement with the city of Pawtucket and the state of Rhode Island. This agreement keeps the team in McCoy Stadium through at least the 2021 campaign, with a five-year option beyond that. The lease extension came in the wake of a debate about a possible relocation to nearby Providence. It was a discussion sparked by a letter first published in the Providence Journal. Per Providence's Valley Breeze newspaper:

Mike Tamburro, president of the Pawtucket Red Sox, reaffirmed the team's long-term commitment to Pawtucket, saying the lease agreement was in the works "long before the piece" in The Journal.

"We've been here for 40 years and it's been a great home and a great partnership with the city and state," said Tamburro. "By extending this lease, we show everybody where we want to be."

Not only do the PawSox play in the oldest ballpark in the International League, they also can boast of having its longest affiliation. The club has been the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox since 1973 after three seasons as Boston's Double-A Eastern League affiliate.

Your requisite Columbia, S.C. ballpark update

No "Batting Around" column worth its salt would be complete without an update from Columbia, S.C., as Minor League owner Jason Freier (Fort Wayne TinCaps, Savannah Sand Gnats) is spearheading efforts to relocate a Minor League team there. The latest development in this saga occurred on March 4, as the Columbia City Council granted the first of two required approvals to build a publicly funded $35 million stadium. The 4-3 vote occurred amid what The State newspaper described as "increasingly vocal disagreements from residents and reluctance among a council minority."

It is possible that the final stadium approval vote could occur during the city council's March 18 meeting. If it goes through, then whatever team relocates there would likely (but not necessarily) play its inaugural season in 2016.

Living like a Lugnut

A proposed renovation plan to the Lansing Lugnuts' home, Cooley Law School Stadium, includes 80 apartment units that would be located just beyond the outfield fence. More from

The $22 million proposal calls for $11 million in publicly funded stadium upgrades along with an $11 million mixed-use project led by Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson and Lansing developer Pat Gillespie. The four-story development would include 80 apartment units and a year-round bar and grill.

The renovation plan needs to be approved by Lansing City Council; if this approval is received by May 1 then the apartments and restaurant could be complete by Opening Day 2016. Perhaps the best precedent for this sort of living situation can be found in Greenville, S.C., as the Field House at West End apartment complex overlooks West End Field (home of the Greenville Drive).

Palm County doubles down

Palm County, Fla., is home to Roger Dean Stadium, the Spring Training home for the Cardinals and Marlins as well as the regular-season home of the Florida State League's Palm Beach Cardinals and Jupiter Hammerheads. Nonetheless, plans are underway to build a new facility that would serve as the Spring Training site of both the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

The new stadium has been endorsed by Palm Beach's County Commission, but discussions are still in preliminary stages and much remains to be determined as regards both location and funding. If the stadium is eventually built, it, like Roger Dean Stadium, could potentially host Florida State League baseball.

In brief
  • The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would allow the city of Fredericksburg to obtain 3.5 percent of the city sales tax instituted from a planned Minor League Baseball stadium. Construction of the stadium will be privately funded, with the necessary land to be purchased by the end of the month. Fredericksburg's new facility will be home to the relocated Hagerstown Suns, and could potentially be ready by the start of the 2015 season.
  • The Kannapolis Intimidators have played in CMC-NorthEast Stadium since 1995, but is a new home in their future? The Salisbury Post reports that the Kannapolis City Council "began a conversation" during its annual planning retreat.
  • The latest development in Richmond's ongoing (and perhaps endless) quest for a new ballpark, courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch:

    Richmond City Council] voted 7-2 [March 10] to ask Mayor Dwight C. Jones to find $50,000 to hire outside consultants to help vet the plan to build a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom.

    The resolution calls for these outside consultants, whoever they may be, to have no financial interest in the city's Shockoe Bottom development project.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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