Spring Training 1998 - The New McCoy

Venerable McCoy Stadium is headed back to the future. The Pawtucket Red Sox announced ambitious plans to improve and modernize their 56-year old facility, striving to preserve and continue the tradition of a "community ballpark." The renovation and expansion project promises significant upgrades for fans, players, and the front office alike.

New fan amenities in the 1942-vintage park include 3,000 new seats down the left field line, bringing capacity up to the 10,000 AAA requirement. Lawn seating on a berm beyond the outfield fences will provide a casual picnic area. A new entry pavilion, a new ticket office and souvenir shop, increased on-site parking, wider aisles, a new scoreboard and sound system, and enhanced restrooms and concession stands round out the fan-friendly improvements.

The field gets a much-needed makeover, too. The diamond will move out ten feet, creating a professional distance between the plate and the backstop. Outfield dimensions go big league (from 380' to 400' in center) but fences will be cut in half, to 8 feet, preserving McCoy as a home run haven. In addition, the turf, the infield and outfield skins, the warning track and the drainage system are all slated for replacement.

Behind-the-scenes improvements include indoor batting and pitching tunnels, upgraded clubhouse and workout areas, a relocated press box, a computerized ticket system, and a new warehouse and elevator scheme to eliminate fan encounters with forklifts full of hot dogs.

At the press conference unveiling, team owner Ben Mondor was adamant in his desire to maintain the existing charm of the stadium. "This is a community ballpark. This is not a 600 Club, not a single luxury box in there. This is just a little ballpark for little people," he said.

Designer Stephen Boyd of Heery International ticked off several goals of the renovation: To comply with federal, state, and local safety and accessibility regulations, and Professional Baseball Association standards; to allow maintenance and repairs for 50-100 years, and to respect the current facility -- not to make it something that it isn't. "We never had the intent of doing plastic surgery," Boyd said. "We want to dress her up, fix her bones, and help her age into the next century." The new McCoy will have enhanced accessible seating and companion seats dispersed throughout the stadium. Mondor expressed great pride that the park will exceed the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The improvements to the state-owned facility are a collaboration between state and local governments and the Paw Sox. "This is truly a field of dreams for Rhode Islanders," said Governor Lincoln Almond. Total cost of the project is $15 million, with the team kicking in over $3 million. The P-Sox lease runs through 2019.

Groundbreaking happens in May, and construction will continue through the 1998 season, promising not to disrupt this year's games or cause any inconvenience to fans. The ribbon cutting for the Paw Sox new digs is scheduled for April 1, 1999.

©1998 - 2007 Douglas T. Dinsmoor


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