On July 17 I announced through the 78s social channels that the team would be relocating to the north shore, here in Massachusetts, for the upcoming season. A number of people have reached out to express support. Everyone here greatly appreciates it.
Others have expressed disappointment, which is completely understandable. Those that supported our team last year and enjoyed the product we put on the court made considering this decision ever more difficult than it already was.
I would have preferred to keep the team in Worcester. I am a lifelong resident of the area and hoped to bring something of value to the community. I have also attempted to be transparent with our team and will continue to do so. I feel an obligation to explain our decision to those who have supported our team.
There were many considerations in making this move. Here are some of the factors that influenced my decision.
Another important means to expanding awareness of the team is involvement in the community and in-person promotions. While our players were more than happy to contribute, our players are not full-time employees. Also, while our players from the local area, only a handful are from Worcester or surrounding towns. That made availability difficult as most of our guys were working at times where we could have been participating in promoting the team.
While we played our home games in an amazing facility last year, it was also priced accordingly. It is worth every penny we paid, but given the challenges we face to reach a larger audience we had to consider ways to cut costs for the upcoming season.
As we reached the start of July it became obvious that the combination of an availability and our focus on cutting costs was a significant obstacle. That was when we began having internal conversations about options outside the city.
While one person in the city manager’s office was helpful, attempts to engage with the city in an official capacity led to nothing.
On one occasion, shortly after the press conference announcing the Pawtucket Red Sox would be moving to Worcester, we requested to hold a short press event at City Hall. With significant press coverage so recent, we’d hoped to use the same scene while it was fresh in the mind of people in the community.
After pushing for a couple days and being ignored, the final answer was: “City Hall is for official use only” but I “could use the grounds outside, as that is public property.”
While our team does not in any way represent the strategic value to the city the Red Sox project does, it was still a rather hilarious answer. I wasn’t looking for $100 million in public money to be invested or for any guarantee of $3 million per year over the first five years in sponsorship revenue. I just wanted to use a room.
We also attempted to engage on a promotion around residents of the city. Again, not asking for money. We were told we could do such a promotion, but could not indicate or imply the city was involved or endorsed it.
Needless to say, we didn’t thank them for the permission to do something we did not need their permission to do.
Worcester Bravehearts, a baseball team in the Futures League, is currently in its sixth season. Its one of the best success stories in the city. They have won its league championship 3 times in five years. They have an extremely talented staff that built that business from nothing into a high quality product that has improved its attendance every year it has existed.
The Red Sox AAA team moving to the city will obviously have a substantial impact on their business. The city sought no engagement with the team on the path to deciding to bring the Red Sox here. They were completely disregarded. I may have stronger feelings about it than they do, but I find it disgusting.
Par for the course in Worcester and its regard for its small businesses.
Our decision was largely driven by financial issues. I did not decide I did not want to be in Worcester. We have a very long way to go to build our organization to where we would like it to be. The city did not hold us back.
However, given the totality of the challenges our organization faces, and they are many, I concluded that Worcester was not an environment that afforded the best chance to succeed.
During the playoffs last season the 78s hosted two playoff games at Salem Academy’s Read Gymnasium at 16 Lynch Street in Salem, MA. We will be playing our entire home schedule there this season. While I am saddened to be leaving Worcester, I am excited for a new opportunity.
Our schedule for the season is as follows:
|1||2019-10-26||Salem, MA||NE Outtatowners||06:00 PM|
|2||2019-11-02||Springfield, MA||W. Mass Zombies||07:00 PM|
|3||2019-11-09||Elizabeth, NJ||Jersey Express||05:00 PM|
|4||2019-11-16||Salem, MA||W. Mass Zombies||06:00 PM|
|5||2019-11-23||Salem, MA||Plaistow Shockers||06:00 PM|
|6||2019-11-24||Somerville, MA||NE Outtatowners||05:00 PM|
|7||2019-12-01||Somerville, MA||NE Outtatowners||05:00 PM|
|8||2019-12-07||Syracuse, NY||Syracuse Stallion||06:00 PM|
|9||2019-12-14||Salem, MA||Jersey Express||06:00 PM|
|10||2019-12-28||Paistow, NH||Plaistow Shockers||05:00 PM|