| Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER — When news broke late last week that a California-based company had made an offer to purchase the Worcester Red Sox, many wondered how that would be possible after only one season at Polar Park.
Even if principal owner Larry Lucchino, 76, eventually sells his stake in the team, the majority of the remaining 10 ownership partners aren’t going anywhere. Between real estate investments in and around the Canal District, along with the pride of being affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, these partners are here to stay.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox has enjoyed long-standing success, dating back to its 50 seasons in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. That continued after Lucchino and his partners relocated the team to the Canal District for its inaugural season in 2021.
A successful business will always gain the attention of potential buyers, but Lucchino admitted to the T&G last week that the WooSox are not for sale – for now.
Lucchino told the T&G that he would have to sell the team “sooner or later” but according to sources, the majority of his partners have no intentions of selling.
The California company, Endeavor, reportedly made an offer in excess of $50 million, but the partners quickly turned it down. Lucchino and his partners purchased the PawSox for $25 million in 2015.
Many believe Lucchino will soon only sell his stake in the team and it should be business as usual at Polar Park. The partners want to see their real estate plans come to fruition and the majority enjoy owning a baseball team affiliated with the Red Sox.
Along with Lucchino, the WooSox’s ownership group includes Paul Salem, of Providence Equity; Ralph Crowley Jr., Polar CEO and co-owner; Terry Murray, who served as Polar’s banker and helped grow the company into a national and international success. Jim Skeffington Jr.; Tom Ryan, former CEO of CVS, Habib Gorgi, a managing director at Nautic Partners in Providence, along with Red Sox partners Sam Kennedy and Frank Resnek. William Egan, of Alta Communications and Marion Equity Partners, along with Mike Tamburro, who has been with the PawSox since 1977 and served as team president until 2015.
Local businessman Ed Russo, who was also instrumental in the relocation of the team to Worcester, understands any decision Lucchino makes in the future.
“As far as a businessman here, if Larry sells I applaud him,” Russo said. “God bless him. He built a beautiful stadium. He did what he needed to do and we still have the team in Worcester. It’s business and people move on. As long as the brand stays, God bless him.”
As the T&G previously reported, any potential deal involves the team, not the ballpark. According to the terms of the lease agreement between the city and the team, no transfer of ownership interests in the team shall affect the enforceability of the lease, and the team shall continue to be bound by the terms.
Also, the lease states that so long as certain criteria are met with a transfer of ownership interests, no prior approval of the city is necessary.
Those stipulations include that the team’s responsibilities do not change, that Major League Baseball approves the transfer, and that the ballpark will continue to be operated by the team or a qualified operator.
Any transfers of majority interest outside those criteria would be subject to city approval, “which shall not be unreasonably withheld,” according to the terms of the lease.
Endeavor, a sports and entertainment company from Beverly Hills, California, already has plenty of interests in Minor League Baseball. The company created a subsidiary Diamond Baseball Holdings and recently purchased 10 minor league teams in December.
Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor, said in December he believes there is tremendous potential in owning storied baseball clubs due to the company’s resources.
Endeavor owns the Triple-A affiliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Oklahoma City Dodgers), Chicago Cubs (Iowa Cubs), St. Louis Cardinals (Memphis Redbirds), Atlanta Braves (Gwinnett Stripers) and New York Yankees (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders). The company also owns the Double-A affiliate of the Braves (Mississippi Braves), along with the Single-A affiliates of the Yankees (Hudson Valley Renegades), San Francisco Giants (San Jose Giants), Braves (Rome Braves and Augusta GreenJackets).
Adding the WooSox to an already impressive roster of teams would only increase Endeavor’s foothold in MiLB. However, it appears that won’t happen any time soon.
Telegram & Gazette reporter Steven H. Foskett Jr. contributed to this report.
Contact Joe McDonald at JMcDonald2@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeyMacHockey.