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PawSox Unveil Effort To Boost Attendance Before Move To Worcester

On a spring-like winter day, with renewed evidence of the supremacy of New England teams fresh in the minds of sports fans across the region, PawSox Vice Chairman Mike Tamburro acknowledged the metaphorical cloud parked over McCoy Stadium.

“All off-season long, people have been asking us, ‘how are you going to handle the next two years?’ ” Tamburro said Monday, referring to the PawSox’ plans to relocate to Worcester after the 2020 season.

“And I think there are two paths,” Tamburro continued, during a news conference in the PawSox’ clubhouse at McCoy. “We either can play out the string, mail it in, do our time, or we can embrace the community the way we always have. And in true, PawSox fashion, we want to sprint to the end, we want to do it right, we want to make this city and this state proud of us to the very end.”

The PawSox’s “Celebrate Rhode Island” plan includes offering free tickets to weeknight games for children 12 and under in April and May; the chance for K-12 students advancing to the next grade to get free tickets to a game in July or August; and dividing any profits equally with the City of Pawtucket (a mostly symbolic offer, since the PawSox have not been profitable in recent history).

The initiative also calls for “Rhode Shows,” in which PawSox players and mascots will visit communities, upon request throughout the state; and a commitment to maintain charitable and mentoring programs in Rhode Island after the team leaves the state.

“What this plan will do is more for children, more for families, more for the community, and more for nonprofits than we’ve ever done,” said Tamburro, who has been with the PawSox for nearly a half-century.

Speaking one day after the New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, and on the same day when the world champion Boston Red Sox’ equipment truck stopped at McCoy on its way to spring training in Florida, there was little evidence of the sour aftertaste of the PawSox’ decision to relocate to Worcester.

Student groups from St. Raphael Academy and the nearby Agnes Little Elementary School were present for the news conference. Also on hand was Linda Ruth Tosetti, the granddaughter of Babe Ruth. The choreography reflected the hand of PawSox President Charles Steinberg, a longtime former mainstay of the Red Sox, known for his sense of showmanship.

Steinberg insisted Rhode Island will remain part of the PawSox’ market after the team moves to Worcester.

“What’s not readily apparent is the understanding that there is one region, one region, that the Paw Sox serve – the Blackstone Valley, in Massachusetts, in Rhode Island, down through the state of Rhode Island,” Steinberg said. “That doesn’t change.”

Yet PawSox officials are certainly aware that attendance, which has flagged in recent years, could take another hit due to the team’s decision to leave Rhode Island after the 2020 season.

Rhode Island’s attempt to retain the team was marked by the lack of a collective effort between top state officials, and the PawSox ultimately accepted a far more lucrative offer in Worcester.

Steinberg said the team hopes to double, to $200,000, the amount of annual charitable support to people and groups in Rhode Island, and to continue that, as well as a mentoring program, after the PawSox move to Worcester.


Charle Steinberg, at podium, discusses the PawSox' plans.
Charle Steinberg, at podium, discusses the PawSox' plans.