McCoy Stadium is named after former city mayor Thomas McCoy, who championed the building of this ballpark as a Department of Project Works project back in 1938. Affiliated minor league baseball arrived in town in 1946 in the form of the Pawtucket Slaters, a Class B affiliate of the Boston Braves (Slaters, Class B, Boston Braves, yes this ballpark has been around for a long time). For much of its history, McCoy Stadium was an underused, decrepit ballpark in a bad neighborhood, and sat neglected and visited by only the most avid of baseball fans.
That all began to change in 1977, when Canadian businessman Ben Mondor purchased the Rhode Island Red Sox, saving them from bankruptcy and a move to Worcester, Massachusetts. Mr. Mondor and his staff began a campaign to bring the PawSox, as they are known locally, to a central place in Rhode Island’s hearts. They emphasized a family friendly atmosphere and affordable prices. Their plan worked spectacularly to the point where the PawSox, despite playing in one of AAA’s smallest parks, regularly rank near the top of minor league baseball’s attendance list.
McCoy Stadium underwent a massive renovation in 1999, bringing it up to AAA specifications and transforming it into a more modern facility. Today McCoy Stadium is one of the oldest ballparks still in use, and the stable relationship the team has with the parent Boston Red Sox is a model for the rest of minor league baseball. Entering the 2014 season, only three teams can boast of a longer continuous active affiliation than Pawtucket and Boston (41 seasons).
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McCoy Stadium features several concession stands that line the back side of the concourse. The majority of food sold here comes from one of two very large stands that feature rather large menus ranging from traditional ballpark staples (hot dogs, French fries, burgers, sausages, chicken tenders) and snacks (cracker jacks, candy, popcorn, pretzels), to healthier alternatives (turkey burgers, chicken sausages, salads, chicken salad wraps). Prices are very affordable, especially for this level of baseball. Be warned, lines can and do form at these stands, especially when there is a big crowd present. If you time your food run poorly, you can expect to miss an inning or more of the game.
Several other smaller specialty stands offer items such as Papa Gino's pizza, Hershey's ice cream, fried dough, kosher hot dogs, and mini-melts ice cream. My recommendation is to make your way to the food court located behind section 13. They offer much of the same food available at the larger stands (jumbo burgers, jumbo dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches and sausages) but cooked on an open grill, with larger portions and shorter lines. Several picnic tables are available 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 a wide variety of beer and wine at reasonable prices for this level of baseball. Pepsi products are featured at McCoy Stadium, and the PawSox offer one of the nicer souvenir cups you will find anywhere.
Overall, concession offerings here are solid, with no items that will blow you away, and you won't have to take out a second mortgage to eat and drink at the game. One aspect of the concession experience that will disappoint is the fact that there are no local favorites available here. In an area like New England where there are so many opportunities for local tie-ins, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Since Ben Mondor took over, the PawSox have strived to provide a family friendly, affordable atmosphere to take in a ball game. Fans don't come to McCoy for crazy promotions between innings and are not hit over the head with loud music and in-your-face team personnel. In Pawtucket, the game is the thing. Besides an occasional t-shirt toss or dance cam, there isn't a whole lot to distract you from the game. The PawSox annually rank near the top of all minor leagues in attendance, and the fans here are passionate and knowledgeable about their future Red Sox. Having the major league team only a 45 minute drive away certainly helps. The atmosphere here may not be as raucous as you might find elsewhere, but it's closer to a traditional baseball feel than you will find in most minor league outposts.
There is a spacious berm area in left field should you have children with you who need some room to roam, and a new addition to McCoy Stadium is a children's play area located behind the barbecue area. It's a good place for the kids to blow off a little steam. The staff at McCoy are friendly and accommodating. It all adds up to a pleasant place to take in a game.
McCoy stadium is located in the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, located 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 post-game meal can drive to nearby Newport Ave, where there are several dining options. 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 for eating and lodging.
The PawSox have become one of Rhode Island's most treasured institutions, and fans flock to McCoy Stadium during the warm summer months. PawSox fans are proud members of Red Sox Nation, and are knowledgeable about the future Red Sox playing here. The majority of fans here are not at McCoy Stadium to be seen, they are here to take in some quality baseball. The PawSox market themselves to the family demographic, and it is not unusual to see several generations taking in a game at McCoy together.
The city of Pawtucket is located a short six miles from Providence, and 45 miles south of Boston via Interstate 95. McCoy Stadium is located about a mile or two from I-95 depending on what direction you are travelling from. If coming from the south, take the School Street exit (exit 27) and follow the signs to the stadium. If travelling from the north, take exit 2A (Newport Ave) and follow the signs. Be warned that if driving around rush hour, traffic in and around Pawtucket can be hairy.
The most efficient way to travel to McCoy Stadium is by car, but for those fans using public transportation, RIPTA offers bus service to the Stadium. Route 79 has a stop right at McCoy Stadium. 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.
Fans requiring handicapped access will be pleased to find several seating areas for their use. Bathrooms at McCoy Stadium are plentiful, but lines do form at certain times. The wide concourse under the seating bowl is easy to navigate.
The PawSox pride themselves on providing an affordable entertainment option for families. Tickets cost $12 for reserved seating and $8 for general admission. Children and seniors can purchase seats for a mere $5. Parking is available at no charge (yes, you read that right) in the lot adjacent to the ballpark. This lot fills 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. With reasonable food prices, the PawSox have certainly achieved their goal of making a night at McCoy Stadium an affordable alternative for Rhode Island families.
Fishing for autographs - McCoy Stadium's physical set up 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 the home plate from the game present for viewing.
PawSox murals - With their affiliation with the Boston Red Sox dating back to 1973, the PawSox have seen more than their share of players move up to the major leagues. Several alumni have been immortalized in murals that line the old entrance ramps to the stadium.
Ben's treasuresn- If you ever have the chance, take a tour underneath the stadium, where memorabilia from longtime owner Ben Mondor's personal collection are displayed along the walls leading to the luxury boxes.
Patriotism - The PawSox make it a point to recognize those who serve their community and country. The opening day ceremonies feature police and fire departments from every community in Rhode Island. God Bless America is sung at the end of the sixth inning every night accompanied by photos of local men and women serving in the armed forces overseas.
McCoy Stadium won't wow you with an elaborate game day presentation, modern amenities, or flashy extras. What you will get here is baseball at affordable prices and a relaxed atmosphere. This is a ballpark that emphasizes its history, and luckily, it has a lot of history to lean on. If traveling through New England, McCoy Stadium is a must see for any ballpark chaser.
In some places, the stadium is the star. Others, it's the product on the field. If you're lucky, you
might get both; if you're unlucky, you get neither. More often than not, you land somewhere in the middle. McCoy Stadium, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, falls into that middle category. Built in 1942, there's nothing glaringly wrong with it. While it's a perfectly adequate and comfortable place to see a game, you won't find any particularly special perks that differentiate it from other parks. The Pawtucket Red Sox, AAA affiliate of the Boston team that resides 45 miles to the northeast, have been playing here since 1970.
I've only been here once and there was a special circumstance that should be taken into consideration by anyone reading this review. I visited this stadium in 2009 and happened to be in town when David Ortiz was in Pawtucket on rehab. The place was PACKED. Had to park far, far, far from the stadium (I think I was in Vermont) and we were very lucky to get tickets from some guy who wasn't able to go to the game. Otherwise, we would have been unable to to get seats. I really like the stadium. While I prefer an open concourse, I liked the historical displays (I am a Sox fan). Bill Lee was there signing autographs (for money, I didn't get one). I liked that young fans were lowering buckets on a string with programs, hats, etc in order to get autographs from players (including Papi). The food was average and the crowd seemed to be interested in the game. It made for an interesting atmosphere. Wouldn't mind seeing this park again if I'm in the area.
EVERYTHING there is advertising that 33 inning game.
McCoy Stadium bills itself as the ultimate in family friendly entertainment, and it goes a long way to fulfilling this vision. Inexpensive tickets, free parking, lots of chances for the kids to mingle with the mascots, and areas for the kids to roam are pluses. Don't forget to bring your fishing gear if autograph hunting. Seats far from the action, obstructed views (for a real laugh, check out the seats directly behind the press box. All that can be seen is the pitcher's mound and home plate), and a dead neighborhood are minuses.
Quiet, unassuming, and a perfect place to watch a game. Park on the street if you can. Once inside, take your seat and enjoy the game without all the noise and promotions. It is hard to believe that one of the richest teams in baseball has their AAA team here, but you can see a lot of future Boston talent for a very low price.
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