Without an ongoing minor league season, the Pawtucket Red Sox found another way to bring money in and please local fans.
The PawSox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, turned the outfield at McCoy Stadium into a restaurant.
How did the minor league team accomplish that feat, and could it begin a new trend for professional sports teams? Let’s take a look.
The Pawtucket Red Sox are a minor league team
The Pawtucket Red Sox are one of the sport’s oldest professional minor league teams. The PawSox opened play in 1970 at the Double-A level but moved up to Triple-A in 1973.
The team’s 50-year history means some of the greatest players in Red Sox history came through the system. Three Hall of Famers — Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, and Wade Boggs — all played for the PawSox.
Seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens also played for the PawSox, although his ties to performance-enhancing drugs have kept him out of the Hall of Fame through 2020.
Modern Red Sox stars Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jon Lester all came up and played for the PawSox.
The team turned its outfield at McCoy Stadium into an open resturant
The PawSox are in the midst of a summer without baseball. Their longtime ballpark, McCoy Stadium, is empty and hasn’t seen action in nearly a year.
That is why the PawSox recently turned the stadium’s outfield into an open-air restaurant. Picnic tables now sit on the infield dirt and the outfield grass.
The entire front office, led by PawSox president Dr. Charles Steinberg, work as the restaurant’s staff. The waitlist featured over 800 families as of mid-June.
Steinberg wanted to give back to PawSox fans in what was supposed to be the team’s final season before moving to Worchester, Mass., next year.
In a recent interview with the Boston Herald, Steinberg explained how great it felt turning the stadium into a new treat for fans.
“We’re happy we were able to do something for the fans. We wanted to give them a sweet finale. Maybe we’ll still be able to go on the field. But they were so appreciative that they could have this emotional experience on the field at McCoy Stadium in the 50th anniversary and final season of PawSox baseball. It was really ripe with emotion.”
The restaurant is open during “Dining on the Diamond” nights. Over 160 families attended the first weekend.
Other teams may follow the Pawtucket Red Sox’s idea
The Pawtucket Red Sox may not be the last team to turn its ballpark into a restaurant.
Steinberg told the Herald that “at least” 10 other teams reached out to learn how the process worked.
Professional sports teams should strongly consider doing something similar, especially if a 2020 MLB season occurs in a ‘bubble’ instead of each team’s respective city.
If the Cubs play a season in Arizona or Florida, Wrigley Field will go unused. The team and the city would each benefit from turning the outfield into an area where Cubs fans can dine and, possibly, watch their team from afar.
Even the big-league Red Sox could have fun here. Fans could dine under and even inside the Green Monster.
In a time where minor league baseball is struggling badly, one of its teams may have discovered a fantastic way to profit right now.