Worcester Red Sox fans started showing up to Polar Park before doors opened at noon for the team’s home opener.
“I took the day off. She got dismissed early from school today,” said Matthew Lavoie. “We like to come in early, and we like the whole feel of the ballpark … It’s just a home away from home.”
Lavoie and his daughter, Caitlin, say they went to every home game last season.
“It means a lot to us because we have a lot of good memories here,” said Caitlin. “It’s going to be really cool to see all the seats filled, because last opening game, it was only 25% capacity, so it should be cool to see hopefully everyone coming out today.”
This year, the ballpark is open at full capacity, allowing fans to fill more than 9,500 seats.
“I was happy they were able to do it last year, amongst the pandemic, but it’s much better with a full park,” said Marc Rischitelli.
He was among fans stopping in at The Banner Bar & Grill down the street.
“Usually before [the game], we get a really nice crowd, a lot of families, and then you’ll see after the game starts to end, it’s like floods of people start coming down, and this is one of the first stops they go to,” said bartender Dani Fontaine.
Next door at The White Eagle, bar manager Julie Sargentelli said the business renovated because of Polar Park.
“It’s going to keep this building alive, and that’s our goal. We own the building, the members own the building, so we are going to keep the building in the city as long as we possibly can,” she said. “And that’s what it’s done for us, it’s given us revenue to keep our business going.”
Worcester’s business development manager says the ballpark is helping attract visitors to the city.
“In 2021, according to the data we have, the city of Worcester received approximately 350,000 visitors,” said Edgar Luna. “Most of them have never been to the city, most of them did not know all the businesses that surround Polar Park so, it has been an absolute success.”
“We’re just excited in general for business in the area with the Canal District. It’s just a real up and vibrant neighborhood now, we couldn’t be prouder,” said Sargentelli.
WooSox Manager Chad Tracy said the team has been looking forward to Opening Day at home.
“It’s like a holiday, right? It really is for people who have been around in baseball for a long time, if you are a player, it really does feel like Christmas morning almost,” Tracy said. “So it was exciting in Jacksonville being on the road. It’s even more exciting when you get to do it in your home park.”
The Worcester Red Sox play the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at home through Sunday. On Saturday, the team will play as Los Wepas de Worcester.