Charlestown


July 22, 2007 - Looking to residents to step up to the plate

CHARLESTOWN

Looking to residents to step up to the plate

By Patrick McGroarty, Globe Correspondent  |  July 22, 2007

A group that has worked for several years to build a minor league baseball stadium in Boston is now considering a site in Charlestown on land controlled by Bunker Hill Community College, even though the school's board of trustees has already voted against the proposal.


The group, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, made its pitch for a 6,000-seat, $50 million minor league stadium at a public meeting in Charlestown last Wednesday.


"As you all know, you're here because we had a bump in the road with Bunker Hill," Alex Bok, president of Field of Dreams, said to a crowd of more than 70 Charlestown residents that consisted mostly of stadium supporters. "We're seeking an opportunity for people to hear our presentation and hear what we're doing," he said.


Since 2005, Bok has been trying to build a stadium and establish a Boston baseball franchise that would compete in either the Atlantic or Canadian-American independent minor leagues. In an interview last week, Bok said his group had informally discussed plans for the stadium with Mary L. Fifield, president of the college, but had not made a formal presentation to the trustees before they voted in late June against bringing the stadium to campus.


"We were very surprised," said Bok.


"We had understood the process was we would get them a formal proposal and then we would come and make a presentation." He is hoping that community support for the project might prompt the board to hear a formal presentation on the stadium in August or September, and then reconsider their vote.


Jeanne-Marie Boylan, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said trustees voted against the stadium because it "is not consistent with the mission of the college."


Boylan said the stadium is "a private development, and would prevent any expansion for academic reasons on the site." But she added, "If we received more interest from the developers, from residents of Charlestown, we would be happy to take that under consideration."


The meeting last Wednesday was called by Tom Cunha, who served on the college's board of trustees from 1993 to 2005 as a representative of the Charlestown community. Cunha voiced frustration that the college had not consulted the community before voting on the proposal.

"I would just like them to be a neighbor, and to share with their other neighbors what their rationale is before deciding without giving their neighbors an opportunity to at least view" the plan, said Cunha.


The land in question -- parking lots just south of the John F. Gilmore bridge and east of the Orange Line -- is owned by the state and controlled by the college.


If the board declines to take a second vote or rejects a formal proposal, Bok said his group will turn its attention to several alternative sites in or near the city.


Field of Dreams has previously proposed building the stadium at Boston University and on Columbia Point in Dorchester, and has been focused on the Charlestown site for about six months.


Last week, Bok said multiple sites in Dorchester were still under consideration, and added that Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has suggested several stadium sites in that city.

But the Charlestown site, said Bok, is especially appealing because of its proximity to I-93 and the Orange Line.


Construction would be privately financed, and organizers plan to generate significant revenue through naming rights. The stadium design is likely to resemble that of Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. Field of Dreams members have made trips to Hammons and are working with its architectural firm, Pelham Phillips of Springfield.


While people at last Wednesday night's meeting largely supported the proposal, there are concerns about the traffic that the stadium would draw during the 70 home games each season.

"I'm generally in support of this, but the traffic problem would need to be solved," said Bill Galvin, a member of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council.


Bok said he believes existing parking spaces at lots that serve the community college and offices across Rutherford Avenue could handle the 1,300 cars expected during home games.

He also suggested that the stadium would be an economic boon for Charlestown, as well as a facility that the college could use as a home field for its athletic teams.


"The college has lots of stakeholders and they move very precipitously," said Bok, "and we think we can persuade them to reconsider, and we think we will persuade them to reconsider."

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

 
South Boston

March 8, 2006 - Page One: Sites eyed for a minor league team - Baseball park touted for BU or S. Boston

By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff |


A Boston lawyer who wants to bring an independent league baseball team to Boston has had

preliminary discussions with the mayor and other city officials about possible locations for a

6,000-seat stadium, including Joe Moakley Park in South Boston and Nickerson Field at Boston

University.


The lawyer, Alexander Bok, said he also has had preliminary conversations with more than a

dozen potential investors about raising the $4 million to $6 million initial investment for the project.


He estimated that a stadium would cost $20 million to $25 million, which would be paid for

over time by team revenues. A team, which would be part of the deal, would probably cost an

additional $750,000, or slightly more, he said.


''I think we won't have any trouble raising the money to do this," he said, adding that he plans to

be a significant investor in the project. ''The challenge is a good location."


A spokesman for Menino, who met with Bok for about an hour last Friday, said the mayor had no

comment. Bok said that Menino liked the concept of bringing minor league baseball to the city but

that the mayor had concerns about traffic and other issues that might affect neighborhoods.


City Council President Michael Flaherty and state Representative Brian Wallace, South Boston

politicians who have met with Bok about the proposal, were intrigued by the idea of minor league

baseball in Boston.


''To bring independent league baseball to Boston is something that clearly warrants

consideration," Flaherty said.


But locating a park in South Boston may yet be a sticking point, they said, especially at

Moakley Park, where baseball fields and other facilities are used heavily by community leagues

and groups. Flaherty and Wallace said they would not endorse a minor league park unless

neighborhood groups consented.


Bok said he would work closely with neighborhood groups and local officials to address their

concerns as he develops a formal proposal. He added that a minor league park could be a

great catch for a neighborhood. Youth sports teams, for example, could use the field when the

home team isn't there, he said. Families across the city would also get a less expensive, more

accessible alternative to the Red Sox, he said.


''In Boston now, on Thursday afternoon, you can't say, 'Let's all go to a baseball game this

coming weekend,' " he said. ''And this is a much lower price point, $8 to $10 a ticket. With food

and souvenirs, you might spend $20 a person."


Meanwhile, Bok said he is moving ahead on several other fronts: He has signed a formal

agreement with National Sports Services, a Colorado-based sports consulting company, to help

steer potential franchise negotiations and financial arrangements. He said he plans to go to

Missouri next week to meet with architects.


He said he hopes to be in the midst of a community vetting process by the end of the year to

break ground by spring 2007 and open the team's first season in spring 2008. He acknowledged

that the schedule probably is ambitious, but said he believes Boston is more than ready for a

minor league team.


''Some say, besides the Catholic Church and politics, that baseball is the third religion of Boston,"

he said. ''I think there is an immense interest and unmet need that this could help meet."


Bok said he has discussed a possible expansion team in Boston with executives of two

independent baseball leagues: the Canadian American League, which has teams in Worcester,

Brockton and Lynn, and the Atlantic League, which has teams in New York, New Jersey, and

Connecticut. Both leagues require existing team owners to approve new teams, he said.


Ted Tye -- chairman of the board of the Worcester Tornadoes, which had its first season last year

-- said that adding a Boston team would only stoke enthusiasm for the sport across the region.


''It's a religion for all of us," he said. ''And with any religion, you need a bunch of churches."


A stadium would require about 8 acres. Although other possible locations may arise, Bok said,

Nickerson Field and Joe Moakley Park are attractive because they are close to highways and

MBTA stops; they have space for parking; and they are in ''areas that are safe and welcoming to

people of all communities."


Bok said he spoke with Boston University officials about the possibility of building a park on

Nickerson Field, the site of the former Braves Field, where the Boston Braves played from 1915

to 1952. It is now BU's largest athletic field, used for intercollegiate sports, as well as professional

men's lacrosse and intermural competitions, according to the university's website.


Bok said that spectators could use parking for BU's 7,200-seat Agganis Arena, and that games

could be scheduled so they would not overlap with events at the arena or with Red Sox games.


Joe Moakley Park is a 57-acre tract that runs just off Interstate 93's Exit 15, bounded by William

J. Day Boulevard and Columbia Road. About 16 youth and adult sports leagues use its soccer,

baseball, and football fields, bringing about 2,000 people on weekdays and 13,000 people on

weekends from April to November.


Bok said his initial thought was to build a field at the site of a relatively new football field at the

north end of the park. The team would find a way to accommodate community sports teams that

might be displaced by a new ball field, he said. The team is looking into a parking agreement with

the Bayside Expo & Conference Center across the street, which Bok said has a large parking lot.


Charles Euchner, who has written extensively about baseball and the business of baseball and

who served from 2000 to 2004 as executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston

at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said he thought independent

baseball could be a huge success in Boston.


© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

 
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