The City of Lowell and University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) have finalized the much anticipated sale of LeLacheur Park, a 5,000-seat park located along the Merrimack River, formerly home to the Lowell Spinners and now the new home to the UMass Lowell River Hawks NCAA Division 1 baseball team.
Lowell City Council authorized the sale of the ballpark to the UMass Building Authority in a unanimous decision on July 26, 2022. The Civic Stadium Commission, chaired by Marjorie Miller, and including Peter Casey, Adam Baake, Patricia Cafferty, Phil Shea, Matthew Donahue, and John Sexton, played an enormous role in moving this agreement across the finish line. A special legislative session was held by the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government in November 2022, signed by Representatives Rady Mom, Edward J. Kennedy, and Vanna Howard. The agreement was finalized by the City of Lowell Law Department, led by Second Assistant City Solicitor John McKenna.
In 1998, State Representative Edward LeLacheur secured the funding for the park, providing a source of revenue and entertainment to residents of Lowell for many years. Reflecting on his grandfather's legacy and what this sale means to the future of Lowell, Matt LeLacheur said, "My grandfather was always committed to doing whatever was best for Lowell. When the ballpark was built, it was part of a larger revitalization effort in the city. I think he would be excited and optimistic to see how this sale can be part of a similar revitalization effort for not only the park but the city as a whole."
From 1998 to 2020, LeLacheur Park was home to the Lowell Spinners, members of Minor League Baseball's New York-Penn League (NYPL) as the Class A Short Season affiliate to the Boston Red Sox. The Spinners were one of the 40 team casualties of Minor League Baseball's reorganization efforts, having been dropped from the MLB after the 2021 restructuring. Currently, the ballpark is home to UMass Lowell's NCAA Division 1 River Hawks baseball team, which competes in the America East Conference.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen says, "We are very pleased to finalize the transfer and look forward to the next chapter in LeLacheur Park's history. UMass Lowell will invest significant resources and work closely with the city administration to ensure that this facility will once again be a showcase for Lowell. I am confident that the partnership between the campus and the city will allow LeLacheur to welcome visitors for years to come."
The sale of LeLacheur Park signals a new chapter in the partnership between the City of Lowell and UMass Lowell, a successful union that has spanned decades and continues to strengthen to the benefit of both entities. "The transfer of ownership is a major step forward in upgrading and maintaining this community asset," said Mayor Sokhary Chau. "I believe we are unlocking the potential of LeLacheur Park and its vicinity by this action."
This new chapter marks exciting opportunities for the revitalization and economic development of UMass Lowell's East Campus area. The university is in the process of expanding services and upgrading resources. The new ownership of LeLacheur Park will be beneficial to the university as well as the surrounding community. According to City Manager Thomas A. Golden, Jr., "The partnership with the university is important to the potential growth of East Campus in a similar way we saw with the development of the area around the Tsongas Arena. This is an opportunity for improved economic development in this area of the City of Lowell."
The sale price hovers at $1 million, with the University currently making improvements and taking over maintenance fees. As part of the sales agreement, the City of Lowell will retain use of the field for local events which include, but are not limited to, recreational usage from local baseball and softball organizations, as well as celebratory events.
Conor Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer to the City of Lowell, says, "This is a welcomed financial opportunity for the city. The City Council has invested $1.6 million in capital into the ballpark in recent years, and by having baseball continue at the field that investment will still be realized. Additionally, the economic development potential in the East Campus will expand the tax base and have benefits for the residents and businesses here in Lowell."
John McKenna, Second Assistant City Solicitor, City of Lowell Law Department, with City Manager Thomas A. Golden, Jr.
(photo courtesy of Doreen Burgess, Assistant to the City Manager)