McCoy Stadium - Pawtucket Red Sox
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
McCoy Stadium 1 Ben Mondor Way Pawtucket, RI 02860
Year Opened: 1942
Home of The Longest Game
A project of the Works Progress Administration, McCoy Stadium was built in 1942 on the site of Hammond Pond. It has hosted minor league baseball on and off since 1946, serving as the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox since 1970. The team, which was riddled with debt and in danger of moving and/or folding on several occasions, was purchased by Ben Mondor in 1977 and transformed into one of the premier franchises in all of minor league baseball under his watch.
Mondor passed away in 2010, and the team was sold to a group of Rhode Island businessmen in 2015. Immediately upon purchasing the team, the new ownership announced their intention to leave McCoy Stadium for a new ballpark in downtown Providence. After lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations, the team abandoned this project and engaged in a search for a new location for their team. Eventually, two cities emerged in a competition for the franchise-Pawtucket and Worcester, Massachusetts. Negotiations with both cities progressed over the course of two years.
On August 17, 2018 the team announced their intention to relocate to a new ballpark complex being built in Worcester, a city located about 40 miles northwest of McCoy Stadium. The new ballpark, being subsided almost entirely by public funds, will open in the spring of 2021.
Food & Beverage 3
The Pawsox have taken strides in recent seasons to expand the food options at McCoy Stadium, but the menu here remains average at best.
The majority of the concessions at McCoy Stadium are sold at two large stands located behind home plate. All your basic ballpark fare and snacks can be found here, but there is nothing out of the ordinary to be found on the menu. Healthy alternatives and gluten-free items are popular selections. Be warned to time your trip to these large stands carefully, as long lines form, particularly when a big crowd is present.
Several smaller stands line the concourse and fill out the offerings with items such as Papa Gino’s pizza and Hershey’s ice cream. In addition, there are two stands at the top of the seating bowls which offer a scaled-down menu for those not wishing to fight the crowds on the main concourse.
Stadium Journey’s recommendation is to head over to the food court located behind section 13. Located here is a grill which offers a similar menu to the main stands, but which is cooked over an open fire, featuring larger portions and shorter lines. Also located here are several portable carts offering items such as kosher hot dogs, chicken fingers, french fries, ice cream, and frozen lemonade. Several picnic tables are located in this area, but unfortunately they do not offer a view of the game.
Thirsty baseball fans will be pleased to find several stands dedicated solely for the sale of adult beverages. McCoy Stadium features an impressive variety of beer and wine at reasonable prices for this level of baseball. Pepsi products are featured at McCoy Stadium.
In an effort to lure fans back to McCoy Stadium, Pawsox management has beefed up both the daily promotional schedule as well as the amount of in-game promotions. The results have been mixed at best, as long-time fans have been resistant to the changes, while younger fans appear to enjoy the enriched schedule.
Every inning break features some sort of activity designed to keep the younger fans in attendance involved. From classic promotions such as Pawsox trivia and 50/50 raffles to newer features such as “Hurl the Pearl” and the video bus race, McCoy Stadium’s game day presentation is typical of minor league baseball parks.
A recent addition to the game day experience at McCoy Stadium is “Mondor Way,” an area of the parking lot which is sectioned off and opens up two hours before the first pitch. Various family friendly activities such as face painting, live music, photo opportunities with mascots Paws and Sox, and the chance to watch batting practice from field level are available.
McCoy Stadium is located in the hardscrabble city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, six miles from downtown Providence. Pawtucket is best known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Slater Mill, the first fully mechanized mill in the United States, is located a couple of miles away in downtown Pawtucket.
McCoy Stadium is located in an area that straddles an industrial park and a residential area. Fans looking for things to do in the immediate vicinity of McCoy will be disappointed. There is a small diner, a pub, a convenience store, and a Chinese restaurant next to the ballpark, but little else. Fans looking for a pre or postgame meal can drive to nearby Newport Ave., where there are several dining options. Likewise, lodging options for visiting fans are particularly slim.
Out of town baseball fans should head to nearby Providence for their sightseeing and dining needs. Providence consistently ranks as one of the top dining cities in the country, and there is no shortage of excellent options here for eating and lodging.
Fans of the Pawsox, once known as some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable in all of the minor leagues, have shown their displeasure with ownership by staying away from McCoy Stadium in droves, even before the team announced its intention to move. The Pawsox have seen their attendance drop from a high water mark of over 9,000 fans per game in 2008 to under 6,000 fans per game in 2018. The team, which would annually rank among the national leaders in attendance, is now hovering near the bottom of the International League rankings.
Given Pawtucket’s proximity to the parent Boston Red Sox, it is easy to understand how passionate and knowledgeable these fans are. The Pawsox have always marketed themselves as a family-friendly venue, and in the crowd at McCoy Stadium you will find families, youth groups, company outings and casual fans mixed in with the hardcore, loyal baseball fan.
The city of Pawtucket is located on the Rhode Island/Massachusetts state line, six miles from Providence and 45 miles south of Boston. McCoy Stadium is located a short distance from the highway, requiring some travel through the city. Be warned that if driving around rush hour, traffic in and around Pawtucket can be hairy, particularly around the infamous S-curves.
RIPTA offers bus service to McCoy Stadium for fans using public transportation. Route 79 has a stop right at the ballpark. If taking the bus from Providence, take the Route 51 bus from Kennedy Plaza to Main and Roosevelt, where you can pick up Route 79. The closest Amtrak train station is located in Providence, about a 10 minute drive away, while the MBTA train from Boston has a stop in nearby South Attleboro.
Most fans will enter McCoy Stadium via the entry tower in left field. The old entry ramps still line the old ballpark, but are used only to move between the main and upper concourses. The seating bowl, which is raised about eight feet above the field, stretches from shallow left field to first base. Seating consists of green box seats, red reserved seats and blue general admission seats. A walkway is located about a third of the way up the seating bowl, and is full of traffic throughout the game. It is recommended that if purchasing reserved seats, you avoid the first few rows for this reason. Be advised that some general admission seats at McCoy Stadium feature obstructed views. Additional general admission seating is located on the left field berm and center field bleachers. Fans requiring handicapped access will be pleased to find several seating areas for their use.
Be sure to time your trip to the concession stands wisely, as long lines can form at times. The wide concourse under the seating bowl is generally easy to navigate. Bathrooms at McCoy Stadium are plentiful. Unfortunately, in their efforts to prove that McCoy Stadium is no longer a viable home for the team, the Pawsox have let some maintenance issues slide, and the bathrooms are not the cleanest or most functional you will come across.
Return on Investment 5
Ticket prices at McCoy Stadium, which have held steady for four years, are the lowest in all of Triple-A baseball. Ticket prices start at $9 for general admission seating, with red reserved seats priced at $13, and green box seats priced at $14. Children and seniors can purchase seats for a mere $6. Prices for all tickets increase by two dollars on game day.
Parking is available at no charge in the lot adjacent to the ballpark or at Jencks Middle School across the street. These lots fill up fast, so get to the ballpark early. If you get shut out of the main lot, there are several surface lots near McCoy that charge $5 to park. On street parking is also available for fans willing to search for it.
Fishing for autographs-McCoy Stadium’s physical setup is such that the first rows of stands are about eight feet above the playing field. The dugouts are located underneath the stands, and fans looking to get autographs from their favorite players have to “fish” for their autographs. Kids will dangle their items for signing on strings inside pails, milk cartons, or binders in hopes that a player will “bite” and sign their treasures. Resourceful autograph seekers will try to entice players with candy or gum left in their buckets.
The longest game-In 1981 McCoy Stadium played host to the longest game ever in professional baseball, lasting 33 innings between Pawtucket and Rochester. There is a display on the concourse commemorating this game, with artifacts, photos, and even home plate from the game present for viewing.
Pawsox murals-With their affiliation with the Boston Red Sox dating back to 1970, the Pawsox have seen more than their share of players move up to the major leagues. Dozens of alumni have been immortalized in murals that line the old entrance ramps to the stadium.
Ben’s treasures-If you ever have the chance, take a tour underneath the stadium, where memorabilia from longtime owner Ben Mondor’s personal collection is displayed along the walls leading to the luxury boxes.
Even though the Pawsox have committed to move to Worcester, they will play the next two seasons at McCoy Stadium while they wait for their new home, Polar Park, to be built.
So what will become of McCoy Stadium? Nothing is certain at this point, but rumors have floated that a lower level minor league team could move in (relocation rumors often swirl around several NY-Penn League teams). This would require approval by the Pawsox, as Worcester, Pawtucket and Providence share a single territory according to Minor League Baseball rules. There is a chance that an independent team from the Atlantic League could take up residence in Pawtucket. More radical plans, such as refitting McCoy for soccer, have also popped up recently.
While the loss of the Pawsox has hit the area hard, it’s probable that losing the team has saved the stadium. Fans looking to visit McCoy to see the Pawsox have two years to come to Rhode Island, but we may not have heard the last from this majestic old barn.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.