We end 2019 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Soccer Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #5: New England Revolution continues its search for a new soccer-specific stadium.
Facility questions have surrounded the New England Revolution for years, as the club seeks to depart Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium in favor of a new soccer-specific venue in or closer to Boston’s core. That search is continuing into 2020 with plenty of unanswered questions, but signs from 2019 point to the organization lining up plans to eventually secure a new stadium.
The Revolution shares Gillette Stadium with the NFL’s New England Patriots. The Kraft family, which controls the Revolution and the Patriots, has previously made efforts to move the MLS club out of Gillette Stadium and into a smaller, soccer-specific venue somewhere in or closer to Boston’s core. Thus far, that goal proven to be elusive—a hard push to build at the site of the former Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester fell through in 2017 when negotiations ended–and 2019 is winding down without an announcement on new stadium plans.
Information that did surface in 2019, however, raised intrigue about what the club could eventually plan, as the Kraft Group confirmed could invest as much as $400 million in a new stadium project. If that number holds, it would amount to a fairly sizable investment by MLS facility standards, but one that is not entirely surprising given the challenges that the Revolution face in pursuing a Boston-area stadium.
A cost of $400 million would be high in comparison to other recent MLS soccer-specific stadium projects—the $250 million it cost to build Minnesota United FC’s Allianz Field is generally closer to the going rate, while a new FC Cincinnati stadium is expected to fall within the same price range. That said, construction costs have been increasing, and the Boston market is one where adequate land for a project of this scope is scarce, which will surely drive up the cost of obtaining property. Additionally, Boston has historically been skeptical to the idea of putting city funds toward sports facilities, meaning any Revolution stadium project will likely have to be backed by a significant amount of private funds.
It should also be noted that it cost about $400 million to build Audi Field, the home of D.C. United that opened during the 2018 season. Like the Revolution, United spent years searching for a new stadium solution in a market with scarce land options before finally finalizing facility plans.
For the time being, there are more questions than answers about how and when the Revolution will move forward with new stadium plans. Regardless, it seems that team ownership is preparing to put up a significant sum of money to complete those plans, which could amount an ambitious facilities project once it takes shape.
Image, which reflects previous Dorchester stadium plan, courtesy New England Revolution.
Here’s the rest of our Top Ten of 2019: