Accomplished baseball architectural planner to assist PawSox Planning and Development Team
Janet Marie Smith, the renowned baseball planning and development executive who partnered with Pawtucket Red Sox Chairman, Larry Lucchino, to create Oriole Park at Camden Yards and to save the historic Fenway Park, will participate with the PawSox development team as it considers all options regarding the future site of the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate.
Smith will remain Senior Vice President, Planning and Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where she has overseen a US$175m renovation of Dodger Stadium and a complete overhaul of their Dominican Republic training academy, Campo Las Palmas, while she works with the PawSox on this project.
Smith will also be spending time in New England, as she was recently appointed by Yale University’s School of Architecture as the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Architecture Fellow for the Fall (Autumn) 2017 Semester.
In regards to the PawSox project, Smith will reunite with Lucchino, the mentor who first brought her into baseball. He hired Smith in December 1988 to translate into an architectural reality his vision for a traditional, old-fashioned downtown ballpark with modern amenities. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992, launched a revolution of new ballparks in both Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB), many of which have revitalised their respective downtowns.
After Lucchino took over the San Diego Padres and Smith worked with the Braves’ Stan Kasten on various projects in Atlanta, the two were reunited back in 2002 to save Fenway Park.
After completing those renovations, Smith re-joined the Baltimore Orioles, where she transformed their Spring Training site in Sarasota, Florida. She then rejoined Kasten with the Dodgers.
Back in the first quarter of 2017, the Pawtucket Red Sox (PawSox) announced the creation of the “Prospect Development Group: A Real Estate Development Arm of the PawSox.” This entity, which will exist separate and apart from the PawSox organisation, will be created by the team in response to and in support of Mayor Grebien’s exciting “Pawtucket’s 20/20” vision that was announced back in April, as well as suggestions made by local business leaders and elected officials who are eager to see private investment in the city, and a new ballpark that will spur development for Pawtucket and Rhode Island as a whole.
Speaking at the time, PawSox Executive VP/General Manager Dan Rea, Executive Director, Prospect Development Group, said:
Across Minor League Baseball, the most successful ballparks have proven to be catalytic game-changers for cities, states, and regions. The recently-completed McCoy Study placed a key emphasis on surrounding development, making it clear that any new public-private partnership among the PawSox, the City of Pawtucket, and the State of Rhode Island works best if it benefits the area and its developmental potential.
PawSox Vice Chairman, Mike Tamburro, who is also helping to lead the Prospect Development Group, said:
It’s as simple as us wanting to invest in the town that’s been our home for 40 years. Recently we’ve seen teams like the Durham Bulls and the Toledo Mud Hens take particularly active roles in development efforts surrounding their successful ballparks, and as we search for a sustainable long-term home for the PawSox in Pawtucket, we want to explore those teams’ models, doing our part to try and ensure that both the ballpark and its surrounding area are year-round, vibrant assets for this region. We’ve heard the Mayor’s vision loud and clear, and we’re eager to help advance his goals.
Prospect Development Group’s leadership team will be comprised of several PawSox senior executives. The group will also explore opportunities with Peregrine Group, an East Providence-based real estate advisory firm with extensive dealings across Rhode Island and New England, as well as nationally-recognised commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which has deep experience working with some of the country’s most successful sports and entertainment districts.
The team are focusing on staying in Pawtucket, with two sites in the city having been identified as the front-runners for the new stadium, which the PawSox have said will be a replica of Fenway Park. They have also left open the option of staying at McCoy Stadium – their current home, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year – though that would require a big investment; the team and State having identified US$68m’s worth of renovations being required.
Main image (top): Janet Marie Smith