The team that won a professional women's soccer franchise for Boston tonight sketched out a preliminary transportation plan for roughly 20 home games a year at a renovated White Stadium in Franklin Park that could include shuttle vans from for-fee parking areas in more remote areas in places, possibly as far away as areas near Rte. 128, I-93 near the Neponset and north of Jackson Square.
In a Zoom meeting, however, skeptical residents on both the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury sides of the stadium, doubted people would pay to park and ride shuttle vans - or take the Orange Line to Green Street and then make a Euro-style "march to the stadium" - and would instead flood their streets looking for some free on-street parking.
And they were not having it.
"We will not accept any traffic exiting from the park onto Seaver Street," Roxbury resident Louis Elisa said, going so far as to threaten legal action otherwise.
Jamaica Plain resident Peter DeCotis similarly said the team better not be sending more traffic down Walnut Avenue. Other residents questioned whether anybody from the as yet unnamed team or its traffic consultant has actually driven on the roads around the stadium and park, questioning one possible route for shuttle vans from Green Street down Glen Road into the park.
Residents said the city could go a long way in soothing their fears by letting them turn their streets into resident-only parking zones. But BTD's Nick Gove said the city currently has a moratorium on new resident-only areas. He did not say why, but said that possibly by the time White Stadium is ready for pro soccer, the city will have eased that restriction.
DeCotis said any traffic plan that does not include residential-only parking just wouldn't fly.
The city selected the team, owned by a group of local entrepreneurs called Boston Unity Soccer Partners, earlier this year to help renovate White Stadium, an increasingly dilapidated field that still has damage from a fire decades ago but which still serves as a field for a number of BPS high schools and which hosts a number of community events.
Boston Unity would restore the stadium's ability to host up to 10,000 people at a time and provide a world-class professional soccer field that would remain open in non-game hours to BPS students - who would also gain modern locker rooms, indoor training facilities and even classrooms.
White Stadium "will always be owned by Boston Public Schools and we will never be selling White Stadium," Morgan McDaniel, the city's deputy chief of operations said.
The stadium itself will only have a small number of spaces, for team buses, medical crews and the media.
Brian Beisel of Howard Stein Hudson, the team's traffic consultants, said the firm started out its research by looking at how the US Open handled large numbers of spectators - up to 20,000 a day - in Brookline in 2022. He showed a map with areas where the team might look to site remote parking lots for soccer fans coming in from the north, south and west - who would have to pay for spaces in advance - but would then get free shuttle service to and from the stadium. The team has not picked specific locations or lot sizes; Beisel said feedback from meetings like tonight would help the team come up with a more definitive plan.
For people who don't want to pay to park, he said the team would emphasize getting to the stadium by public transit, either by the Orange Line or commuter rail, although Beisel acknowledged there isn't that much commuter-rail transportation on weekends. He said he's still looking at how to get fans from Orange Line stops to the stadium. Forest Hills would have the least impact on residents, because the route would consist of Morton Street and Circuit Drive in the park. But Green Street is closer to the stadium and Glen Road only has parking on one side, which would lessen the impact on residents, he said. Also possibly in contention: Jackson Square, with its connection to the T's "bus rapid transit" lanes on Columbus Avenue.
He added the team would also look at a dedicated Uber/Lyft pickup area as well as a BlueBikes "valet" service for people renting bikes for the last leg of their trip.
Residents suggested he actually drive the area; one volunteered to drive Beisel and others around. They also questioned his contention that soccer fans wouldn't try to park in the Franklin Park Zoo's parking lots.
Peter Fraunholtz suggested the team widen its possible search for remote parking to towns such as Sudbury, Lexington and Newbury, where he said the girls who play youth soccer who would really want to go to games, could board buses to keep their car traffic off neighborhood streets.
Allegra Sandak, who said she lives five doors from the stadium and is thrilled to introduce her daughters and son to women's soccer, raised a question about the 345 days a year when the team isn't playing at White Stadium: With all the new facilities leading to greater use of the stadium, how will that traffic be handled? McDaniel said the city has only begun to look at increased use of a renovated stadium, but that traffic management would definitely be part of the considerations.
Video of the meeting | Slide deck.