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Park group sues to block conversion of White Stadium into a professional soccer arena

Citing the potential for "irreparable harm" to Franklin Park, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy yesterday sued Boston, a city trust fund and the group seeking to bring women's professional soccer to Franklin Park over plans for an $80-million rebuilding and expansion of White Stadium.

In its lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the Conservancy says the rapid pace of planning and planned reconstruction of both White Stadium and adjacent parkland for use by an as yet unnamed National Women's Soccer League team would deprive the public in general and of football-playing BPS students in particular of full access to a treasured park.

In addition to its overall suit, the Conservancy, and several Boston residents, are asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Boston Unity Partners and the city from doing any demolition or other work - including any leases or other contracts - while the suit is pending. It is also seeking an order, to be filed at the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, preventing the George Robert White Fund - a city-controlled fund that technically owns the stadium and the 14 acres it sits on - from selling or leasing any part of the land.

The group acknowledges the current stadium, is in terrible shape, in part due to a fire that made the eastern stands unusable, but says the city and the George Robert White Fund it controls have failed to look at alternatives to giving control of half the stadium and a proposed beer garden and concession area next door to a private enterprise.

The group says George Robert White, whose will gave the city the money to start his eponymous fund, directed that income from his trust be used only for "creating works of public utility and beauty" and that no fund money "be mingled with other funds or applied in joint undertakings." According to the complaint, the George Robert White fund paid $20,000 to purchase 14 acres in the park from the city for creation of the stadium, and then $1.24 million to build the 10,000-seat "schoolboy" stadium in 1949.

Under plans by Boston Unity Soccer Partners, filed with the BPDA in December, the private concern and the city would each rebuild half of the stadium's seats - and then add 1,000 more - with Boston Unity taking responsibility for a scoreboard and construction of the beer garden and concession area. The Boston Unity stands would include room for 14 corporate boxes. The city is currently looking for a contractor for its $46-million reconstruction of the stands and student-athletic facilities on the eastern side of the stadium.

City officials say the stadium upgrades would bring state-of-the-art athletic facilities for use by BPS students, aside from football players.

Complete complaint (29M PDF).

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Comments

What does the Emerald Necklace Conservancy plan to do if it wins? Is it going to sink the money to fix up the stadium to match what this private partnership will do because its in pretty poor condition?

No?

Then have a seat. Unless you plan on coming to the table with your own ideas AND funding to get it done, you can have a seat.

To me this sounds like NIMBYism. All of a sudden people are concerned about this stadium after decades of neglect. If it quacks like NIMBYism, it probably is.

Maybe the partnership should include a check for $1.3m to pay off the Emerald Necklace Conservancy so they can be permanently seated. Then the property becomes 100% city owned and managed. The conservatory will have zero say about it.

Also makes me wonder if this was 100% paid for by the city if the Emerald Necklace Conservancy would have still filed a lawsuit... probably not. If it quacks like a .......

But no, they will fight this, win and the stadium will be sitting there to rot and the public loses. What a way to go.

PS - There needs to be a time limit on these agreements. Like after 50 years, the property becomes wholly owned by the city, and that agreement is dissolved. This is how it is done these days with other projects. Eventually the city will own it when the lease is done.

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Did the city care about this property before white people became interested in taking it over?

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This proposal is no better than the land grab disguised as a bid for the Olympics.

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Piss off anon.

So we can have a stadium that rots. You'd rather have that than a new facility. Got it.

And for the record. I was one of the '10 people on twitter' who fought the bid and won. I do not see this being similar at all. So piss off Anon.

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where the city retains ownership and control of the space? Giving it up for a couple nights a week (per the schedule) seems like a fairly low price to pay in exchange for some major renovations.

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who are spending their time these days furiously writing propaganda for the regime, to assure a soft landing when the alleged dismantling is complete.

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wants to take away a football field from a group of minority, BPS students,. . . . .

If it quacks like a duck, . . . . .

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So you want a stadium that will sit there and rot. Got it.

BPS nor the city of boston have the funds to fix this stadium. So we do what we do next?

According to people on this thread, we just let it sit there and rot.

Don't BPS and minority kids deserve better facilities? I mean I read the proposal myself, and it would be used for that purpose also.

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$46 million on stadium improvements. That could be enough to improve it for high school sports without the need to enrich private investors.

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy are the good guys here. They have been working on preserving open space in the city for decades.

The blow in millionaires are only in it for themselves

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Voting closed 64

Over in Eastie, Memorial stadium was turned over to Suffolk University for a "partnership" rebuild model....now no one in the community plays there anymore. Same thing with Northeastern and Carter Field. Are they still open to the public? I guess so but when both schools slap their logos all over the field and get priority for events there is a perception in the community that this isnt "for them" anymore.

Folks are right to be skeptical. It is effectively privatizing public resources.

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Not that they've done it in a really long time but White Stadium made an awesome concert venue back in the day.

Leave White Stadium to the student athletes.

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The city certainly has the ability to raise the money to pay for it within 1.5 fiscal years. If it doesn't, it's *choosing* to not spend the money on it (and, yes, leave it in the pockets of land owners of Boston) rather than fixing it.

I'm not saying that's not a legitimate choice, but it's a choice. The city *has* the money.

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BPS would get exclusive usage of the field for almost all of the week. How is that "being taken away"?

(pages 11-13 here)

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Concerns from historically marginalized communities about being displaced from public land during the most opportune time of the year are not run-of-the-mill NIMBY-ism. The Wu administration should have treated the surrounding communities as true partners in the planning process and they really dropped the ball on this. Hopefully this lawsuit forces a more collaborative approach.

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I absolutely have qualms about a private entity virtually purchasing a public park - but - It's a little like the Boston 2024 Olympics bid. "We shouldn't use the money for this. We should use that money for housing and all of these other things" Guess what - without the Olympics, there is NO money. Similarly, the City has sat on this crappy stadium for 30 years. If the soccer team goes away, then nothing will ever get done.

We're far better having the soccer team, but with tough parameters that allow Boston high schools use it.

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Lawsuits popping off lately like daffodils in the spring

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No more football in the city high schools?

This is a giveaway to private interests of public property. If I proposed a beach volleyball stadium at the corner of Beacon and Charles, I would be committed to McLean against my will. (Then again, I might see someone high up in local politics there!)

High school football, which does provide a salve for a lot of high schoolers, will dissolve to nothing in the city if this happens. The women's team would need the stadium until November. HS football is September-November.

The charge for the giveaway is being led by well off non-city residents like someone who runs a local newspaper.

I'd suggest we all wait until certain people have paid off certain politicians and a stadium gets built in an close in industrial area of Greater Boston.

Then a person high up in a certain foundation known for suing who may have a strong relationship with a leading area concert promoter can get paid off and then we can have the leaders of the women's soccer team work with the owner of a certain men's soccer team and women's soccer won't fall flat on its face in Boston. Just like it has done twice in the past 20 years in Boston.

Forgive me for not naming names here but I don't want to be sued and there are a lot of powerful people in this city trying to make a buck here.

This giveaway smells bad. The rich will get richer at the public's expense.

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that this was the only football field in the city, good info to have.

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Off the top of my head:

Daly Field, Brighton
East Boston Memorial Stadium
Boston English
West Roxbury Educational Complex

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Nice subtweeting/vaguebooking you got going on there. Makes it easy to spread bogus, made-up rumors.

In any case, even without White Stadium, there are places for high-school students to play football, and one might argue that the bigger problem for BPS football is not lack of a field, but lack of decent equipment for the players.

There's even a brand-new (well, newish) football field at the possible future home of the O'Bryant in West Roxbury. And, yes, that gets to the issue of transportation (same as with sticking the O'Bryant there, as well), but no, Boston does not have just one football field.

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You are taking away a resource for kids so professional adults can make money for richer people.

So, Burke, which is within walking distance to White Stadium has to practice / play in West Roxbury? That's your plan?

There is only so much play / practice space to go around. I guess you want to give some of it to outside suburbanites over Boston kids.

Very weak.

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Really dumb.

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How's That?

Not everyone has to like everything (I like sailing by the way).

I never played but I know a lot who did.

I know a lot of teachers who appreciate the discipline which football gives to kids, which translates into better academics.

I also don't want Franklin Park, now that all the JP people have "discovered" it turned over to a private corporation for profit.

There have been parks which have been turned over to schools in the city. Those are non-profits. The golf course is a public recreational use, not a private one. Emerson has the park on Randolph Street. No one used that. Ever. White Stadium gets used.

This effort by Second Wife & Co. is a profit (they hope) making enterprise.

Would you give the Commonwealth Mall over to a Fro-Yo franchise? Peter's Park turned over to a sneaker store? You wouldn't.

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Outside of White Stadium? HS football fields or city run swimming pools? Because most of them need significant repairs.

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That’s what the Court systems are for, and it’s too bad don’t have the money or brains to fight those who are behind untethered developments that are hatful to not only the neighbors but the environment.

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Where is the Conservancy on the discussions of relocating Boston’s substance-abuse population to Franklin Park? Why sue against a stadium refurbishment and remain silent on the HUGE Lemuel Shattuck gamble? I really don't get it.

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nobody said it will be a good new deal

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This is rank nimbyism. “I don’t like your plan,” dressed up with faux concern for BPS football (how many soccer games do Conservatory members attend? What does the Conservatory do to advance BPS football?).

To be clear, the Conservatory has a dozen on staff and didn’t give a shit about White Stadium until the Mayor proposed a renovation.

https://www.emeraldnecklace.org/white-stadium/

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So let's see a place where great intercity football was played bringing in all kinds of folks and neighborhoods together, civic gatherings think Black Panthers, concerts remember the Hues Corporation, Elma Lewis brought acts to the stadium...so the green hoi polloi no like. The project is in keeping with the spirit and tradition of the Stadium. So the blow ins and nimbys express horror, it's a City, not a farmtown. World class we want to be but nothing for the average resident who may get a benefit. We will tell you what's best, we know better. No good times here, mother nature no like.

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Oh the shortsightedness of ENC...

While there is some value to the public/private discussion, see DCR & Teddy Ebersol fields, the tactics are off. IMO, they are ignoring an example that happened just down the road in Quincy.

Pro lacrosse moved in to Veterans Stadium in Quincy and upgraded their facilities. And then pro lacrosse left after 2 seasons for “greener”
pastures. In return, Quincy got an old stadium upgraded for modern sports and Quincy stills get to use it. (The rugby team now plays there in the spring/summer too.)

So I guess common sense isn’t too common. Because instead of simply waiting for the soccer team to move on from White Stadium, but still reap the benefits of renovation, we may get nothing. (Side note: I wonder how many members of ENC actually have kids that participate in BPS sports to inspire such a move?)

Then again, ENC has to spend that $300k in 2022 revenue somewhere (no 2023 990 yet), might as well be spent on lawyers…

Bravo Boston (and Brookline), Bravo.

Sincerely, a Dorchester resident

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Veterans Stadium was rehabbed by a public / private initiative.

They put in fake grass. Therefore Quincy and North Quincy football got to use the stadium on a regular basis. You could play football on Friday and the Freejacks can play on Saturday. No issues.

Here, BPS is prohibited from using the field until after soccer is complete. They want a grass surface and football will mess that up.

You have a public resource being taken with massive conditions with essentially no payback.

See the difference?

PS - When Ebersol Fields were put in, the Ebersol family only wanted "kids" to play on it and tried to enforce it. The fields were empty a lot because it is not exactly a 6 kid per household area. Citing Ebersol is also a poor choice as well.

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