November 6, 2018

Worcester's new baseball team might not be called Red Sox

Courtesy | City of Worcester
A rendering of the new stadium to be built in Worcester.

The minor league baseball team slated to start playing in a new $101-million Worcester stadium in 2021 might not be named the Red Sox, a brand valued at nearly $3 billion.

Early renderings of the proposed stadium, Polar Park, have the words "Worcester Red Sox" on signage and the team's website, PolarPark.com, call it the "Home of the Worcester Red Sox." However, team officials have made it clear that name isn't set in stone.

"In the words of Kevin Garnett – 'ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE!'" said team spokesman Bill Wanless, quoting the former Boston Celtics great.

In what is clearly designed as a fun and interactive promotion, the Pawtucket Red Sox are asking fans to make suggestions for a new team name and/or nickname when it relocates from Rhode Island to Massachusetts. Early fan suggestions on the team's official Instagram account include Worcester Minutemen, Worcester PawSox and Worcester Night Crawlers.

"We have heard from those who would like to call the team the WooSox, and we have heard impassioned pleas from others to not call them the WooSox," club President Charles Steinberg said. "So we ask, 'What's in a name?'"

Other than the PolarPark.com homepage, the team appears to have been very careful to not call the team the Worcester Red Sox, or the WooSox, instead referring to itself as the Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in social media and elsewhere on its website.

Minor league teams typically don't carry the same nickname as their major league affiliate. The New York Yankees' Triple A affiliate is the Scranton RailRiders, for example, though the New York Mets' new top affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., changed last month from the Chiefs to the Mets. The Atlanta Braves' top affiliate changed this year from the Gwinnett Braves to the Gwinnett Stripers. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are the only other Major League Baseball teams whose top affiliates share their names.

However, the Boston Triple A affiliate has been known as the Red Sox for the entirety of its 48-year existence, all of which has been based in Rhode Island.

In its annual valuation of Major League Baseball teams' worth, Forbes put the Boston Red Sox value at $2.8 billion, making it the fifth most valuable baseball team. Forbes anticipates the value rising above $3 billion in its next rankings, when the team's 2018 World Series Championship will be factored in.

The only thing definitive about the Worcester minor league team name, according to the letter of intent signed by the city and team in August, is the inclusion of the city's name. Any nicknames must include "Woo" or "Worcester" unless the city approves otherwise.

The call for different names comes even after a lawyer for Minor League Baseball filed three trademarks for the term "WooSox" in July and after businesses like Guertin Graphics in Worcester have been printing hats and t-shirts with the term.

For three weeks until Nov. 26, fans can log onto PolarPark.com or deposit written suggestions at a series of ballot boxes posted around the city.

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