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Emerald Necklace Conservancy, residents vow to continue legal fight against White Stadium soccer makeover

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy and a group of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester residents said today they will continue their legal battle against plans by the city and a professional women's soccer group to remake White Stadium into a modern facility able to host pro soccer.

The conservancy and local residents, who include longtime Franklin Park advocates Jean McGuire and Louis Elisa, and who now call themselves the Franklin Park Defenders, say the plans, which would include a restaurant and beer garden, would deprive the public of their right to the stadium on 20 prime Saturdays a year. Giving over the stadium to the soccer team, even with the stadium available to the public on other days, is an unconstitutional taking of a public park facility for a private enterprise, they say.

In a statement, Elisa said:

BPS football teams would be displaced from their home stadium because the soccer league doesn’t want their cleats on their field. Community events and festivals will have to fit around the soccer team’s schedule, and the people who have spent the last thirty years cleaning up this park will be forced out on more than half of the warm-weather weekends.

The groups sued earlier this year and initially sought an emergency court order to block the city and Boston Unity Soccer Partners from doing any work on the stadium - where only one of two grandstands is currently usable due to fire damage.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge denied that request, however, saying the city and the soccer entity could continue their planning and work on the proposed $80-million project could continue even as the suit does. In her ruling, Judge Sarah Weyland Ellis said none of the money for the project would come from the George Robert White Fund, which initially paid for the land and stadium construction and which requires its money only be used for projects "for the use and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the City."

Weyland Ellis added that, if anything, the soccerized-White Stadium would mean increased public access to the stadium by completely renovating the aging, fire-ravaged facility and that even a public facility can allow some private uses.

The groups say that instead of bringing privatization into Franklin Park - they say they are concerned about the proposed new 11,000-seat stadium also being rented out for concerts - the city should concentrate on rebuilding White Stadium as a facility just for the use of BPS athletes and the public.



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I just can't read the objections from these NIMBYs without the biggest of eye rolls.

Can't wait to buy my season tickets to the NWSL.


with opposing something that will negatively impact these communities? Especially those opposing live in these communities versus loudmouths who have no stake in this because most don’t even live in Boston. The bigots don’t care what happens in community of color as long as they benefit by watching soccer and maybe having a beer.


I'm all for the redevelopment. Make White Stadium a jewel of Franklin Park! I'm totally on-board to use private money to give BPS students a state-of-the-art stadium. I can't wait to utilize the new track too!

This is not a transfer of public land to private ownership. BPS retains ownership of the stadium, and the lease agreement is very clear about when the soccer team can use it. We're using private money for the public good. That's just plain awesome!


I have yet to see a single compelling case for how this would negatively impact any portion of the community with the small exception of BPS football (which does have a minor gripe but I'm okay with that tradeoff). This post accurately sums up my feelings on it: https://www.universalhub.com/comment/969956#comment-969956

As for "don't even live in Boston," for the record: I live in Northern JP (near Hyde Square). Can't wait to both walk to the games on those rare game days and go use the improved facilities as a member of the public on the other 345 days!


seems to be a catchall slur for some people who have never met with a development they didn’t want to approve no matter what it might do to its surroundings. I wonder whether I can come up with a dismissive acronym to use in place of thinking…




The term already exists.


...it's really "Yes in YOUR back yard".


I guess I'd be considered a NIMBY but I'm all for it. We need more usable space for people. Livable cities is where's it's at, and Boston is behind the times.


Respectfully, Judge Sarah Weyland Ellis opinion on this one was misplaced and ill informed.

The wealthy investors will not stop at 20 days of soccer games a year for their return-on-investment of a $30 million renovation.

Boston Unity’s Jennifer Epstein, Anna Palmer of Flybridge Capital, Stephanie Connaughton and Ami Kuan Danoff with their investors Boston Globe Media CEO Linda Pizzuti Henry and Boston Celtics basketball operations president Brad Stevens are a real political and financial powerhouse.

There will be no stopping an expansion into concerts and additional for-profit sporting events beyond the 20 prime Saturdays days a year.

Permits will be given, variances from the original agreement made.


I'm sure there will be concerts (and isn't THAT a terrible thing? Entertainment and community engagement? THE HORROR!), but they will be approved by the city, which will still own White Stadium. You can feel free to advocate with the city against those further approvals... or you can just lighten up, join in, and enjoy.


The idea of Egleston being a hot hip neighborhood sounds outlandish but same has been said for many places that have transformed. Development is working its way up Washington St. and I think people see the writing on the wall. An influx of money into the neighborhood like this project could greatly accelerate the rate of change, and that's what I suspect this is ultimately all about.


Yes, that is a legitimate concern for sure. I'm not sure it's what's motivating the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, but for sure making sure improvements to the city benefit everybody rather than forcing out long time residents takes intentional work. But I think we can both have nice things and help maintain the existing community. Mostly by building A LOT more housing, both affordable and market rate which will drive down prices on existing stock.

Needing more housing to fix the affordability crisis shouldn't be used as a reason to not undertake ambitious projects that will benefit the community. We need to do both.


In a way, owing to her running of Metco, Jean McGuire has actually done a massive disservice to the city's school sports programs over the decades with really good athletes playing for Wellesley and Concord Carlisle over Burke or Brighton. Boston lost a core of people who could have stepped up for the school programs today like BLS athletics is underwritten by parents and alumni.

However, It is great to see a nearly every day park user step up for the city, not for the city government and their multi-millionaire cabal of investors trying to steal public property for private gain.


You keep claiming that this is "stealing public property," which is just a flat out lie. The city retains ownership and BPS retains control of White Stadium, including scheduling.

The soccer team gets a lease for 20 days a year and rights to schedule 20 additional practices and in return makes a major investment in the facilities.


Would you like to buy a bridge? You appear to be gullible enough to believe what you are told by the proponents.

I will say it again, Rich capitalists try take away field from urban neighborhood kids with government aid and support.

All of the people involved in this proposal have buckets of cash. Why can't they find a site, get approvals, and build their own facility? They won't because they know they are getting a deal here.


I mean, how is it possible to make any public policy if everyone approaches it with a pathological level of distrust? How is there any way to move forward, find common ground, or develop win-win solutions?

To your last point -- yes, the developers are getting a deal. But the city gets (half) a new stadium for free, and our student atheletes get first class facilities. Seems like a good deal for both sides! One can look at the situation and say "how do we get the best deal for our students, and how do we make sure that the parameters of that deal are enforced over time?"

But if your most important priority is making sure the team owners don't get a deal, then the students lose out also.


The court reviewed the documents and came to the same conclusion I did. The documents provide very specific terms for when the soccer team has access. They can't expand their access beyond those 20 days + 20 practices without renegotiating.

You seem to think there's some secret nefarious second round coming: can you present any evidence for this? If not, maybe we should discuss the proposal as it exists now rather than some straw man you're erecting.

Isn't a much simpler explanation that they are happy getting a premier facility for their home games and happy to share that facility and offload management of that facility the other 345 days a year to BPS?


Regardless, what a waste that would be to build an entire stadium for 20 days worth of utilization, while leaving the one used by the kids in a dangerous state of disrepair. The proposal is a far better use of resources.


Giving over the stadium to the soccer team, even with the stadium available to the public on other days, is an unconstitutional taking of a public park facility for a private enterprise, they say.

How is this any different from Boston and DCR renting sections of the Esplanade, Common, and Greenway to private companies to use as beer gardens all summer long?

Plus, the city will close off roads, parks, and other city spaces for exclusive, private use. You need to a permit (not cheap) but it's not uncommon.

For an example of giving a public property to a private corporation for their exclusive use, see Yawkee Way.


folks so hung up on the notion someone might make a profit...


Friend #1: Hey, that awesome band is playing this weekend. Want to come to the concert with us? We're going to meet up ahead of time and grab lunch in the park.

Friend #2: No thanks. The concert promoter is for-profit so I'm just going to stay home and doom scroll. I'd rather just be angry with the thought of people profiting from offering a service I'd like to have than actually see a good band with friends. It's morally wrong for corporations to profit from their investments, after all.

Friend #1: Umm, OK?


“Wanna to go to so and so’s concert?”

“At those ticket prices, I’d need to take out a mortgage. No thanks!”


What a depressing thought.

Bad enough that the Common and the Greenway have these.

Urban sprawl needs to stay out of Franklin Park.


about the beverage and food service and the function room rental at the golf course clubhouse.



There are some amazing parks in other countries, most of them have food and beverage concessions. It's a great feature, not the bug you seem to think it is, because it gives people another reason to use and enjoy the park, all the while making it easier to spend a longer amount of time there. I absolutely treasure such experiences and it is something severely lacking at Franklin Park. If I didn't live nearby, I probably would have stopped going there once my kids grew past the zoo phase. We need more reasons to go to the park, not fewer.


In Europe. No comparison.

Your loss if you never go to Franklin Park just to enjoy nature. There is a picnic area. That’s good enough. People who have to have a cafe or restaurant and can’t be bothered to bring their own thermos and food have plenty of options in the surrounding areas.

And I'll still be able to enjoy nature at Franklin Park when the stadium that is already there is in better, more useable condition.


Might I suggest heading a bit north to Pemigewasset, rather than expecting to find it in a spot that already has a zoo, a golf course, paved roads, and any number of other urban amenities?


… can get to one of my long time favorite places in Boston by public transportation?
I suggest you visit Franklin Park and get a better appreciation of the Wilderness and other unspoiled areas in the park.

I agree with Lee that there should be bucolic settings right in the heart of the city. Franklin Park does indeed serve that purpose admirably, and also serves many other recreational purposes. It can have a stadium and a wilderness, it can have self grilling sites and also a prepared food concession. It's a big park, it doesn't need to be focused on a singular use.


Would the Zoo, hospital or golf course pass the muster if proposed today? Is it because those entities are "non-profits".


The zoo has a lease after the MDC couldn't handle it. The golf course, much like Franklin Park itself, is property of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, with it's management contracted to a third party.

So yeah, it's as much a public park as it was 50-75 years ago.

Is that Emerald Necklace Conservancy would make a good name for a hip hop group. Public Enemy, N.W.A., Wu-Tang Clan, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, it's a natural progression.