With negotiations over a proposed Dorchester MLS stadium dead, the Kraft family is contemplating New England Revolution stadium locations — but there are issues with potential Boston locations, never mind any regional sites.
The New England Revolution currently play at Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, but Jonathan and Robert Kraft have been seeking a new home for the team for years, offering to build the stadium on their own dime. The latest proposal for a new stadium at the Bayside Exhibition Center in Dorchester imploded last week when negotiations ended. That led to this response from the Krafts:
“In 2015, we were invited to put together a stadium proposal for the former Bayside Exhibition Center site. Since then, we have invested millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours to design and structure a venue that would benefit UMass Boston, the City of Boston and serve as an asset to the surrounding communities, with an operating plan that would benefit all local constituencies. We were committed to a fully-funded, privately-financed stadium that would have totaled an investment in excess of $250 million. There was also a full-value land lease to UMass that would have provided annual payments to the university. As is the case with any development opportunity, there were numerous hurdles to overcome and we regularly adjusted our plans to cater to the needs of the project. Unfortunately, and for reasons beyond our control, it has been determined that this project is not feasible to pursue on this site at this time. It is our goal to continue to seek development opportunities where we can invest in a soccer specific stadium that will benefit its surrounding communities while giving our fans and our players a venue they will be proud to call home for generations to come.”
As part of the statement, the Krafts also released these stadium renderings showing a waterfront facility.
So what comes next? Land is at a premium in the Boston area, especially land that can support an MLS stadium and the transit needs of fans. Add in a relatively healthy economy — one where developers are snapping up parcels of land — and the challenge is certainly daunting. From the Boston Globe:
“I’m not sure where else in Boston we could put a soccer stadium that would have the infrastructure,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told WGBH on Friday. “We have to think and see where else potentially this could go in the city.”…
The Krafts are in the challenging position of competing in a hot market for the few properties close to public transit that are large enough for a stadium, said David Begelfer, head of real estate group NAIOP Massachusetts.
And in a city that has been skeptical of public subsidies for sports projects, rejecting not only the Olympics two years ago but Kraft’s proposed South Boston stadium for the Patriots in the 1990s, it’s unlikely such a project would get public funding, as have other MLS stadiums elsewhere.
“Land costs are going to be quite high,” Begelfer said. “A stadium is going to have to come in and compete for a really large land area that could be used for other purposes.”
It would be far easier for the Krafts to see a suburban location and not worry about things like mass transit and generating development. But the vision of an urban stadium close to mass transit remains — for now.
Images courtesy New England Revolution.
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