I see little reason after a half-season of public discussion of the plan to move the Pawtucket Red Sox to a proposed stadium in downtown Providence to get off the fence. A more detailed plan was released by the new PawSox owners this week, but to judge by media coverage, we still do not know whether the cost of seeing a game will remain, as the owners insist, near the low cost of seeing the team play in Pawtucket.
We do know more about how much the owners want from the public, and it is too much. It should come down. But we also have the first inkling of what the stadium would look like, and on that side of the ledger the news is extremely positive.
The importance of the stadium design is not just in creating a ballpark more likely to attract fans. There is a largely unknowable extent to which fans come to games not just to root for their team but to enjoy a sensual aesthetic experience unlike what they experience in their normal lives. Modernist ballparks erode the charm of that experience while traditional parks, such as the Fenway and Camden Yards parks in Boston and Baltimore, expand it.
Even more important is the spinoff effect of the ballpark, not so much in jobs as in the designs promoted by the I-195 Redevelopment District in which the stadium would sit – on land already slated for a public park.
There are already plenty of parks near the Providence River, enough that the current designation of that parcel as a park should not be allowed to block a truly advantageous stadium proposal. No, I refer to the possibility that a traditional stadium might cause the new 195 commission to shift away from the earlier commission’s foolish mishmash of design models to something directly promoting traditional design – design that would build on rather than erode one of the city’s and state’s primary competitive advantages.
That will be key to the stadium’s role in creating high-tech jobs.
The stadium design comes from the firm of D’AIQ, in Somerville, and the Boston office of the international firm Populous. Here are the renderings from “PawSox owners present vision for new stadium,” in the Providence Business News: