the MRA Hearing of January 12, 2012:
Malden Observer 
Now batting leadoff…
Ballpark proposal unveiled for community















Wicked Local Photo by Nicole Goodhue Boyd
Alexander Bok, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams founder and president, talks about some of the details of a 6,000 seat minor league ballpark, Malden Park, Thursday Jan 12 in the third floor Council Chambers at Malden City Hall. The ballpark is slated for the current National Grid site.

By Nathan Lamb
GateHouse News Service
Posted Jan 13, 2012 @ 02:09 PM
   
Malden —
 
Local officials have been vetting a $51 million baseball stadium proposal for just outside downtown Malden since early December — and details of that plan were unveiled during a special public meeting at City Hall on Jan. 12.
The proposal calls for converting the National Grid site at 100 Commercial St. into a minor league stadium with capacity for 6,372 by spring of 2014. With National Grid expected to vacate the site shortly, Boston Baseball was the only respondent to a city-issued Request for Proposal (RFP) to redevelop the site.
Boston Field of Dreams is seeking a site designation from the city so it can begin negotiations for a long-term lease with National Grid, acquire three neighboring parcels required for the project and begin the permitting process.
Speaking to a standing-room-only gathering at the City Council chamber, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams President Alexander Bok said their goal is a privately financed state-of-the-art facility that would provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment and highlight Malden’s status as a “hidden jewel” of greater Boston.
“This will put Malden in the spotlight for the regional area,” Bok said.
The meeting was billed as an informative session by Malden Redevelopment Authority director Stephen Wishoski, who is also chairman of the local committee that’s reviewing the project.
“This is a historic night for the community, and this is the very beginning of what will be a very long process that will involve and insure a lot of input from the public,” Wishoski said.
The session included an hour-long project presentation, followed by 90 minutes of questions from the review committee. Residents were invited to submit questions beforehand but did not pose any questions from the floor. Questions ranged from financial to environmental and included some concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety.
 Speaking afterwards, Wishoski said the committee has been reviewing those issues since early December and likely would make its recommendation by mid-February.
“Barring anything unforeseen happening, I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll send this along to the board with a positive recommendation,” he said after the meeting.
Should the designation be granted, the project would require either a zoning amendment or an urban renewal plan. Wishoski said public hearings are required for both routes.
Outlining details of the proposal, Bok described the National Grid site as an ideal location, noting its close proximity to the MBTA station and a pair of nearby garages with more than 1,200 parking spaces. He said the facility would be multi-use, available for concerts and charitable events, adding Boston Baseball was not seeking any city contributions for construction of the stadium.
The ballpark itself would modeled, in part, after the award winning Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. Architect Mark Rosenshein said it would feature spacious concourse areas, a play area for children, and grassy berm seating behind the outfield. It would also include a 30,000-square- foot entry plaza at the corner of Commercial and Center streets, which would face the Malden MBTA station and provide a gathering place at what is now a vacant parking lot.
“We want it to be the entryway to Malden,” he said. “We want it to be gem people will be proud of.”
Unclear at this point are the traffic and pedestrian safety measures for the project. With busy Route 60 separating the ballpark from the garages and MBTA station, traffic consultant Richard Bryant confirmed a management plan would be required. Bryant, who did similar design work for Gillette Stadium, said police details would be “critical” to that plan, adding they may need to restrict certain left turns during peak traffic or other measures.
“We’re at the beginning of this process, I’m confident, because we have a shared interest: Alex wants his patrons to come back…if his patrons have a bad experience crossing the street, they won’t want to come back,” said Bryant.
Speaking afterward, city principal planner Michelle Romero said the pedestrian crossing at the corner of Commercial and Center streets will be key, adding it’s already been a discussion item.
In terms of traffic, Bok said minor league baseball doesn’t produce concentrated volume, saying family entertainment draws a high ratio of people to cars, adding many come and leave early. According to numbers within the RFP response, only 20 percent of patrons for a 7 p.m. game would arrive during the  peak downtown commute times, with 65 percent arriving during the lower traffic time of 6-7 p.m. Overall, they projected the ballpark would increase peak traffic volumes in the area by 3 to 7 percent, saying that translated into roughly one new vehicle per minute during the peak hour.
From an environmental standpoint Bok said National Grid would be responsible for remediating any contamination from its industrial usage. He said the field would be 3.5 feet above-grade and effectively cap any contamination.
Boston Baseball is looking to join the Independent Atlantic League, and Bok estimated the ballpark would bring 5,000-6,000 people to the area from 68-70 home games per year. He described the league as stable and profitable, saying 40 percent of its players are past or future major league talent — though they emphasized the experience is very much about family-friendly fun.
“One-third of the people who walk out of a minor league game don’t know who won,” said Bok. “It’s entertainment.”
Should things fall into place, Bok anticipated there would be a community contest to name the team next winter. No name has been attached to the proposed ballpark, but the Boston Baseball RFP response indicates it will sell the naming rights for the stadium for $500,000 to $1 million.
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A field of dreams: Proposed baseball stadium details revealed

January 13, 2012

By Malden News

The baseball stadium development team took questions from residents last night at a meeting at Malden Government Center.

The meeting, which happened after press time, allowed residents to air issues on the project, which proposes to convert the 6.6 acre National Grid-owned site at 100 Commercial Street into a minor league baseball stadium seating more than 6,000 people.

Malden officials are seriously considering the proposal, offered by Baseball Field of Dreams, Inc. Attorney Alexander Bok, the group’s founder and president, is leading a multi-member team to find a suitable site for a Greater Boston minor league ballpark.

If everything goes to plan — including getting neighborhood support for the plan, negotiating a lease agreement between National Grid and the stadium owners, and getting consensus on the project scope — the 6,000-seat stadium could be in place on Commercial Street by April 2014.

The Malden Redevelopment Authority, which has a nine-member committee vetting the proposal, released details of the project to The Malden Advocate.

“We want to bring to Malden the delight of affordable family entertainment that is matchlessly offered by baseball and its home … a ballpark,” the proposal states.

The group expects to spend $36 million building the stadium, which would provide at least $100,000 per year in lease payments to Malden and hundreds of thousands more in commercial property taxes.

The development group expects to spend $51 million up front, for everything from construction, to furniture purchases, to land acquisition. That amount includes $2.7 million for the taking of three nearby businesses: Collex Collision Experts, L&L Landscape supplies, and Spadfora’s Auto Parts.

To finance the project, Baseball Field of Dreams, Inc. expects to get $21.2 million in equity investment, and $30.7 million in debt financing. Eastern Bank has already expressed interest in providing the financing, contingent on a number of conditions.

The proposal expects the team to operate at 77 percent capacity and make between $4.8 million and $6.6 million during their first 10 years in operation.

Under the plan, National Grid will continue to own the property because the site — a former manufactured gas facility — is contaminated underground and needs ongoing remediation to improve the soil and groundwater.

The stadium proposal requires National Grid to also pay for the demolition, grading, and construction of a cap. In addition, National Grid will maintain responsibility for remediating, testing and reporting environmental conditions.

The site’s contamination, however, should not be an impediment to development, as similar remediation takes place across the street from the facility, where the site was capped and is now a Danvers Bank location.

The group pledges to offer a handful of its expected 25 full-time jobs to Malden residents, while also concentrating on Malden youth and retirees to make up the stadium’s seasonal employees. The proposal also states that the group will make an effort to adhere to the city’s request of putting Malden residents to work on city construction.

The ballpark will feature a year-round baseball-themed restaurant. Malden would get 70 home games during the 138-game Atlantic League season, which starts in late April and ends in late September. The stadium would include a Malden Park Kids Area complete with playground equipment. The field would also have outfield seating on grass berms. Excluding the suites, the average ticket price is projected to be $11.87.

The proposal suggests that local schools and community groups will be able to use the facilities for baseball and special events for discounted prices. The site could be used to host baseball tournaments for Little League, high schools and colleges. Developers hope the stadium becomes a venue in Greater Boston for conventions, professional meetings, trade shows, and cultural programs, which would attract business to the city.

With thousands making the trek each night to games, the group has hired Tetra Tech Associates of Framingham to study traffic. The group hopes to negotiate a long-term revenue sharing lease, of Malden’s two publicly owned parking garages. They expect that 65 percent of all increased car traffic will happen between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., after the majority of Malden workers have gone home. The group also hopes to minimize traffic on Route 60 by creating satellite-parking sites on so fans can use buses and shuttles. The stadium will also promote using parking lots at Wellington Circle and Oak Grove stations. The proposal suggests that the stadium’s location — in short proximity to subway and commuter rail stops as well as Route 1 and Interstate 93 — means that 40 percent of fans will walk or take public transportation to the game.

The stadium’s group, fittingly, follows the movie Field of Dreams, which continually used the quote, “If you build it, they will come.”

“And as they come,” the proposal states, “Malden will prosper.”

 
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