Boston globe Archive

Artist rendering of the proposed Malden Park facade.


Malden chooses developer for baseball park

By Kathy McCabe |  GLOBE STAFF     FEBRUARY 10, 2012

The Malden Redevelopment Authority chose the Boston Baseball Field of Dreams group at a meeting Wednesday night to redevelop an 8-acre parcel on Commercial Street across from the MBTA Orange Line station.

The group, led by Boston lawyer Alex Bok, proposes to build a $50 million minor league baseball stadium called Malden Park on land currently occupied by a National Grid gas operations facility and three smaller businesses.

The four parcels take up an entire city block in the heart of downtown. It is one of the last major parcels available for redevelopment in Malden, and plans for its reuse have been much anticipated.

The authority’s board gave the nod to Bok, voting 4 to 0 to name his group the “preliminary developer,’’ giving it the green light to negotiate with property owners.

“We have been at this for 3 1/2 years,’’ said Bok. “We are excited to be able to start to work with National Grid and the other property owners.’’

Bok’s group will have until July 17 to reach agreement with National Grid and the other property owners to secure the land. But the deadline can also be extended by a vote of the board, according to a copy of the resolution.

If negotiations are successful, the proposal would then have to go through state and local permitting processes.

“We still have a long way to go,’’ said Stephen M. Wishoski, executive director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority. “There will be ample opportunity for the public to comment.’’

Mayor Gary Christenson spoke in favor of the park.

“I believe this is the type of project we need to move Malden forward,’’ Christenson told the board. “It’s being done with no financial assistance from the city.’’

Bok had been scouting sites to build a minor league baseball facility for some time.

After two sites fell through in Boston, he turned to Malden, a city accessible by major highways and the Orange Line MBTA.

The proposed Malden Park would have 6,372 seats, 16 sky boxes, a pro shop, restaurants, and a 30,000-square-foot plaza opening onto Commercial Street. It would host a team from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, but Bok said has he not yet secured a franchise.

“We’re looking forward to Opening Day, two years from this April,’’ Bok said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

Malden redevelopment board to vote on approving plan for baseball stadium

Posted by Matt Byrne

February 6, 2012 10:04 AM

By Matt Byrne, Town Correspondent

Malden development officials will meet Wednesday to decide if the backers of the Baseball Field of Dreams should win preliminary developer status in their bid to turn a National Grid industrial yard into the site of a minor league baseball stadium.

If the status is granted by directors of the Malden Redevelopment Authority board of directors, backers of the Baseball Field of Dreams would be able to simultaneously negotiate with National Grid, which owns the Commercial Street site, and three abutters.

Although the development is still in the speculative phase, the preliminary developer status by the MRA would give developer Alexander Bok a stronger position to make a final proposal to place the 6,500-seat park on the industrial space.

National Grid is expected to vacate the site this spring.

So far, the project has won the interest of recently elected Mayor Gary Christenson, who has discussed the park as a possible key to his plan to revitalize downtown Malden.

Included in that vision is the possible demolition or repurposing of City Hall, an aging building that divides the Pleasant Street  corridor and is seen by many as a blockade to economic growth in the area.

The public meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in room 621 at City Hall. No public testimony will be taken, the authority said.

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Lease agreement opens way for baseball stadium

By Kathy McCabe |  GLOBE STAFF     NOVEMBER 29, 2012

The Malden Redevelopment Authority , National Grid, and developer Alex Bok have reached agreement on the terms of a 40-year lease to build a $50 million minor league baseball stadium on the site of a former gas distribution facility on Commercial Street.

A letter of intent outlining key terms of the lease, such as rent payment to the authority, must be approved by the state attorney general’s office before a final lease is signed. “We’re cautiously optimistic the attorney general will approve the proposal,” said Stephen Wishoski, executive director of the authority.

Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, declined to comment on the review.

The redevelopment authority would lease the 6.4-acre site from National Grid, and then sublease it to Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, Bok’s development group. The 6,372-seat stadium would host a team from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, with opening day planned in April 2015.

The authority’s board voted on Nov. 20 to authorize Wishoski to sign the letter of intent, negotiated over the past several months.

‘We’re cautiously optimistic the attorney general will approve the proposal.’

“We’re pleased the letter of intent is nearly finalized,” Deborah Drew, a spokeswoman for National Grid, wrote in an e-mail. “This represents a big step forward for the project and we’re looking forward to beginning work on the lease.”

Over the next six to nine months, Bok plans an aggressive push to finalize other essential elements of the project: negotiate land deals with three adjacent property owners; acquire a franchise from the Atlantic League; and secure private financing.

“Now that we have the right to control the National Grid site, we have a pathway to move forward,” Bok said in an interview at City Hall.

Bok must acquire three parcels, totaling 2.7 acres, along Canal and Charles streets bordering the National Grid site. The land is now occupied by three small businesses: Collex Collision, L & L Services, and Spadafora Auto Parts. Bokattempted to secure options on the properties last spring, but was turned down, he said.

“They wanted us to come back to them, once we had control’’ of the National Grid land, Bok said. “The interests of those landowners need to be respected. We have a plan. We’ll have to see how it fits into theirs.”

With at least one property owner, Bok could be in for some difficulty.

“My clients have no interest in selling their property to them and losing their business,” said Robert Shaer, a Boston lawyer representing Collex Collision.

George A. McLaughlin, a lawyer representing Spadafora and L & L Services, could not be reached for comment.

If Bok cannot negotiate a purchase, the redevelopment authority could take the parcels by eminent domain. An urban renewal plan, which would be required for a land taking, is being prepared.

“We’re still hoping and expecting this will be a private deal,” Wishoski said. “Eminent domain, or any use of that law, will absolutely be a last resort.”

The proposed stadium would have 16 sky boxes, a pro shop, a restaurant, and a 30,000-square-foot plaza opening onto Commercial Street. A team from the Atlantic League — which fields players that include a mix of former Major Leaguer players and college all-stars — would play 70 games in Malden, most of them on nights and weekends, according to a project outline.

The Malden High baseball team also would be invited to use the field for home games, while events such as graduations also may be held at the facility, Bok has said previously.

The project faces a lengthy list of state and local approvals, including the state Department of Public Utilities, which regulates National Grid, along with the City Council and Planning Board. “There will still be a great deal of public review of the project,” Wishoski said.

Bok is hoping to start preparing the site by next August, with construction likely to start in February 2014, he said.

Proximity to Malden Center Station on the MBTA Orange Line makes the site ideal for a ballpark, proponents have said.

“We are hoping everything moves along in a timely manner. In baseball, if you are two months late, you would miss a whole season,” he said.

Financing would likely be a mix of bank loans and private equity. In the last five years, Bok said, he has raised $3 million from private investors.

“They and their colleagues have indicated they would like to invest, once they know the project is really happening,” he said.

Bok said he has spoken to Eastern Bank, which has a large presence in Malden, about loans. “We have met with them recently, and they remain very interested and excited about the project,” Bok said.

Andrew Ravens, a spokesman for Eastern Bank, confirmed the bank’s interest.

“We’re actively lending money to fund projects in the communities we serve,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We’re always looking for more opportunities to invest, so naturally, we’re exploring this project and others.”

Bok also plans to sell naming rights to various areas in the park, such as the concourse, dugouts, and the stadium itself. National Grid would have first crack at naming rights. If the utility declines, the lease would prohibit NStar from being considered, Bok said.

“The document specifically states that it will not be NStar Stadium,” Bok said, smiling.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMc­Cabe.

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The Boston Globe

Parcels targeted for new ballpark

April 22, 2012|Matt Byrne, Globe Correspondent

The developer of a proposed minor league baseball stadium told the Malden Redevelopment Authority last Tuesday that his group is planning to make offers by the end of April to buy three plots of land required to move forward on the $50 million project.

The properties are home to three businesses: L&L Services, a trucking and landscaping company at 11 Canal St.; Spadafora’s Auto Parts, 129 Charles St.; and Collex auto body repair, 124 Centre St. Together, they make up roughly a quarter of the 7-acre site primarily owned by National Grid, which is expected to lease its site on Commercial Street across from the MBTA Orange Line station long-term to the stadium developers.

“We’ll make an offer [on the smaller properties] by the end of April; then we’ll see if they’re in a negotiating mode,’’ said Alex Bok, the Boston lawyer and president of the Boston Baseball Field of Dreams LLC, which has been seeking a Boston-area ballpark for several years. “We’re looking to get a deal done to purchase their land by next March or April.’’

If all goes according to plan, workers could break ground by this time next year, Bok said.

Although negotiations will not truly begin until offers are on the table, lurking in the background is the possibility that the Malden Redevelopment Authority may take the properties by eminent domain, said George McLaughlin, an attorney representing L&L Services and Spadafora’s Auto Parts.

“I have a wait-and-see attitude,’’ said McLaughlin. “These are businesses that have been here a long time. If [the developers] want to step up to the plate and pay us fair-market money, I think a deal could be struck, as long as we get the whole pie.’’

At issue will be the compensation levels not just for the land, but for the costs associated with relocating the businesses. If Bok low-balls the owners and the redevelopment authority steps in to take the properties by eminent domain, McLaughlin said he has no qualms about taking the matter to court.

“Give me a jury trial any day of the week; that’s my ‘field of dreams,’ that’s my ballpark,’’ McLaughlin said.

At the Tuesday meeting, Bok said he plans to make above-market offers on the property and has consulted an appraiser to help formulate his bids.

For the redevelopment authority to exercise its right to take the property, it would first have to designate the area an urban renewal zone, which would trigger a public hearing process, said Deborah Burke, the authority’s assistant executive director. Then the state Department of Housing and Community Development would have to sign off on the renewal plan, she said.

“The hope is that any acquisitions that are made are done privately between Bok’s team and the three private parcel owners,’’ Burke said.

In the meantime, the Baseball Field of Dreams group has grown to include roughly 20 consultants, architects, and planners who are working to hammer out the details that accompany the $50 million stadium. Before the group can complete a deal with National Grid, a two-month, $85,000 study by a baseball economics consultant will help the utility understand the intricacies of the baseball business.

“They’re a big institution,’’ Bok said of the utility. “They’re a company headquartered in London. It will take time to get a transaction done with them.’’

The stadium team has roughly a year to draw up detailed architectural plans, complete environmental and traffic studies, and apply for zoning and permitting changes. The zoning and permitting process will eventually spark a round of public hearings on the stadium.

The National Grid site is 10 feet narrower than previously believed, forcing the field to be shifted slightly north, said Mark J. Rosenhein, project manager for the Chelsea architectural firm that is collaborating on the plans.

A large gas pipe that runs beneath the property would have to be relocated, although a brick pumping station owned by National Grid will remain, he said.

Rosenhein said that once the large pieces of the park are locked in, planners can shift focus to the details. Because the Malden River once flowed at the site, planners said a possible theme could incorporate elements of the river’s history, and of Malden’s past.

“We’ll have failed if you come to the park and not learn something about the history of Malden,’’ Rosenhein said.

Matt Byrne can be reached at [email protected].


Malden stadium developers asking property owners to play ball

By Matt Byrne, Town Correspondent

 April 18, 2012 11:05 AM

The developer of the Baseball Field of Dreams told the Malden Redevelopment Authority that his group is planning before month's end to make bids on purchasing three parcels required to build the 6,300-seat stadium.

Attorney and Developer Alex Bok spoke to the authority's board of directors Tuesday, and said his group is fast at work hammering out a long-term lease agreement with National Grid for the main portion of the site.

"We see the next 12 months as lease oriented, getting the environmental and permitting issues in line, so this time next year we can break ground," Bok said. "The message that people should have is that we're all in."

The three adjacent properties include L & L Services, a trucking and landscaping company at 11 Canal St.; Spadafora's Auto Parts,  129 Charles St.; and Collex auto body repair, 124 Centre St.

Two of the owners of the smaller parcels have hired an attorney, he said. The owners have barred Bok's appraiser from an in-person inspection of the properties, but the Boston attorney said he is optimistic that above-market offers will draw positive responses.

"We'll make an offer by the end of April, then we'll see if they're in a negotiating mode," Bok said.

Also moving forward are plans for National Grid to hire an outside consultant familiar with the economics of baseball to evaluate Bok's business plan for viability, for which the developer has places $85,000 in escrow.

Bok said the findings of the study will help inform how National Grid structures the lease. The group is expected to report back to the MRA again in June.

Architecturally, designers are coping with the nuances of the National Grid site, which is 10 feet narrower than previously believed, forcing the entire field to be shifted slightly north, said Mark J. Rosenhein, project manager for the Chelsea architectural firm handling the plans.

"We're trying to get the big pieces in the right spots," Rosenhein said.

Boston Globe LETTERS


Venue would be part of larger plan to revitalize city

  JANUARY 20, 2012

IN “BASEBALL’S a bad call at Malden Site’’ (Op-ed, Jan. 17), Paul McMorrow makes two salient points regarding downtown development: that “silver bullet development doesn’t work’’ and that “building vibrant neighborhoods is slow, hard work.’’ What McMorrow misses in his analysis is the history and progress of redevelopment of downtown Malden over the past 20 years. The redevelopment of the National Grid site into an entertainment venue to attract visitors and to revitalize downtown Malden is part of a multipronged overall strategy, and was never intended to be a silver bullet.

The long-term vision for downtown Malden has been to do the following:

Bring residents with disposable income to the downtown. Today there are more than 1,000 units of housing, with plans to add 700 more within the next two years.

Add office workers. Today there is nearly 800,000 square feet of office development in the square.

Attract niche retail to the square, which we have begun to do by recruiting several top-notch dining establishments.

The redevelopment of the 6.5 acre National Grid-owned construction yard in Malden Square into a ballpark would provide the entertainment component that our revitalization efforts are lacking. In addition, it would provide a comprehensive remedy to an environmentally troubled site that for years was a coal gasification plant.

We believe McMorrow struck out looking on this one.

Gary Christenson


City of Malden

Stephen M. Wishoski

Executive director


Developers aim to put contaminated site to good use

JANUARY 20, 2012

Developers have proposed a minor league ballpark on the Orange Line in Malden.

IN RESPONSE to Paul McMorrow’s Jan. 17 op-ed “Baseball’s a bad call at Malden site,’’ I would make the following comments as the person who has proposed the ballpark development.

Like McMorrow, our group does not subscribe to a naive “silver bullet’’ theory of urban redevelopment. We believe that our proposed ballpark is a very good redevelopment use for a contaminated site on which residential development is inappropriate, not the “regressive use’’ McMorrow terms it to be.

As to what has gone wrong elsewhere, every city faces a different set of challenges. We believe that in Malden the availability of Orange Line public transportation across the street, readily available public parking, and easy highway access to a strong regional fan base would be instrumental to our long-term (again, not overnight) success. The National Grid site in Malden has all of those ingredients.

Independent baseball has many long-term success stories, including in St. Paul (2010 average attendance of 5,063) and on Long Island (2010 average attendance of 6,038). Although McMorrow writes that we are “counting on an aggressive 77 percent attendance rate,’’ our projected break-even attendance is 50 percent, or about 3,200. In addition, the independent Atlantic League, our league of choice, and its ballparks are larger than those of Brockton and Lynn and the Can-Am League. Our Atlantic League ballpark, constructed with no Malden public financing, would be a major league-caliber ballpark, only with 6,400 seats.

We see our project as one important piece of the future success story for downtown Malden.

Alex Bok

President and CEO

Boston Baseball Field of Dreams



Residents gets first look at proposed $50 million Malden ballpark

Entrance to the proposed Malden Park on Commercial Street.

January 13, 2012

By Kathy McCabe, Globe Staff

A Boston development group last night made its first public pitch for Malden Park, a $50 million minor league baseball stadium proposed for the current site of a National Grid facility on Commercial Street.

Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, led by lawyer Alex Bok, proposes a 6,372-seat stadium that would host a team from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The independent league has eight teams, whose players include college all-stars warming up for the pros, and former Major League players rehabbing to get back to the big leagues.

A standing-room-only crowd filled the City Council chamber at Malden Government Center to view a 3D presentation of the project, one of the largest developments ever proposed for downtown Malden. The synthetic turf field also would be available to the Malden High baseball team.

"I am grateful they chose our community," said Mayor Gary Christenson, who organized the public meeting. "I look forward to learning about this unique opportunity."

The red-brick stadium would feature a 360-degree concourse, 16 private boxes, and a children's play area. In addition to concession stands, a restaurant would be open year-round. A grass picnic area would allow patrons to spread out a blanket while watching a game. A plaza, opening onto Commercial Street, would provide a dramatic entrance, with space available for pre-game entertainment.

Aerial view from the outfield of the proposed Malden Park.

"Every game is an event," Bok said. "We want to be bring affordable, family fun to Malden ... We have brought together an amazing team to bring this to you."

The project's all-star team includes architects, baseball analysts and finance advisers with experience building minor league stadiums and Major League venues such as Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles. Malden Park would be modeled on a minor league stadium in Missouri that used by a Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Congressman Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, was on hand to lend his support for the proposed Malden Park.

"This is such an exciting night,"  said Markey, who said he lives about six blocks from the proposed ballpark. "I think all of us came here to be a part of this hopeful, new development. This can really be an historic moment for our city."

The park would take up an entire city block on Commercial Street, across from the MBTA Orange Line.  The proximity to public transportation makes the site ideal for a ballpark, proponents said.

"It will be a real, sustainable smart-growth project," said Phil Young, a Missouri-based architect who is designing the stadium, with help from a Chelsea firm.

The ballpark would be located on an 8-acre site, comprised mainly of a National Grid gas operations center, which will relocate in the spring. Three other privately owned parcels on Canal Street also must be acquired to create enough space for the ballpark.

"We look forward to resuming negotiations with the Canal Street property owners," Bok said.

Bok and his group have been scouting sites in Greater Boston for years, but could never find a parcel available that was large enough to build a stadium from scratch. "There is no other site we found that met our criteria," he said.

The Malden site is ideal because it is located on the MBTA Orange line, has highway access, and 1,200 parking spots available in downtown garages, he said. "We really believe we have the best site in Greater Boston," Bok said.

The Malden Redevelopment Authority, working with National Grid, issued a request for proposals for development ideas for the site. Although a few developers inquired, Bok's group was the only one that submitted a final proposal. The 75-page document, along with last night's presentation, will be published on the city's website,, by Tuesday, Christenson said.

A committee reviewing the proposal will have to make a recommendation to the Malden Redevelopment Authority. That panel would then have to vote to designate Bok's group as developer of the site. If that happens, lease negotiations would start with National Grid, which plans to retain ownership of the land, officials said.

If Bok's group reaches agreement with National Grid, state and local permitting would begin later this year. Once permitted, construction could begin in winter 2013, and the park would open in 2014, according to the time line.

Stephen M. Wishoski, executive director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority, said the approval process would be long and detailed. At public hearings, Malden residents could weigh in on the project. "This is the beginning of a very long process that will involve, and ensure, participation by the public," he said.

Residents at Thursday's meeting expressed mixed views.

"What happens down the road, when the team is done?" asked Mike Aliberte. "Then what would we do with the stadium?"

Jim Vozzella said a ballpark would shine a bright light on Malden. "As far as I'm concerned, it would bring people into the city," Vozzella said. "You're not going to get 6,000 people just from Malden at the games. ... You're going to bring new people here. I think that's great."

Kathy McCabe can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at@GlobeKMcCabe.

A playground beyond right field at the proposed Malden Park.


December 1, 2011 - Baseball stadium proposed for Malden

Baseball stadium proposed for Malden

By Kathy McCabe

Globe Staff  December 1, 2011

A Boston group that for years has been scouting sites for a 6,500-seat minor league baseball stadium now is eyeing a 6.4-acre parcel near Malden center, the current site of a National Grid gas operations facility.

Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, led by lawyer Alex Bok, is one of five private entities to express interest in the Commercial Street property across from the Orange Line/Malden Center MBTA station.

The minor league team would compete in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, where about 40 percent of the players are former major leaguers, Bok said. It appears the ballpark project, estimated by Bok to cost more than $30 million, may have little competition for the property. Bok’s group is one of five private firms that responded to an initial request for proposals issued by the Malden Redevelopment Authority on behalf of National Grid.

The deadline to submit final proposals is noon today.

Among the five groups expressing interest, Combined Properties of Malden, Fort Hill Advisors of Boston, and Williamson Partners LLC, a commercial real estate group in Boston, told the Globe they decided not to submit final proposals. The last company, Northern Sites Development of West Newbury, Vt., could not be reached for comment.

“We would have to form a [development] team,’’ said Scott Bosworth, a principal at Fort Hill. “The timing is just too tight for us.’’

Chris Williamson, a principal at Williamson Partners, said a client he represented is no longer interested. “At this time I can not disclose the client nor provide any comments,’’ he said in an e-mail.

Chris Maietta, vice president at Combined Properties, said the firm has responded “more out of curiosity to see what was in the RFP.’’

National Grid plans to vacate the site this spring, after moving its gas operations to an electric distribution facility it operates on Medford Street. The Malden Redevelopment Authority, a public agency, is helping the utility to identify potential reuses for the industrial site.

“We have been working cooperatively with the [authority] as they redevelop local parcels of land to encourage revitalization of the area,’’ the company said in a written statement to the Globe. “Keeping within our regulatory framework, we intend to work together and continue the productive and cooperative relationship that has been established.’’

“This is one of the best development sites in the entire city,’’ said Stephen Wishoski, the Malden Redevelopment Authority’s executive director. “It’s accessible by public transportation. This is a big opportunity for the city to really maximize the value of the site.’’

The authority last month invited developers to submit proposals for the site. They were asked to identify their project’s benefit to the community. They also were asked to address the impact of traffic, parking, and other transportation issues. The authority also sent information about the parcel to developers that already have worked in or expressed interest in the city. They include Burgess Properties, a Malden commercial real estate firm; Corcoran Jennison of Boston, which built a building on Pleasant Street for the state Department of Education; New Boston Associates, which once proposed building graduate student housing downtown; and National Development, which built Station Landing, a residential/commercial development in Medford.

“We wanted to do additional outreach to see what serious interest there might be in this site,’’ Wishoski said.

“We’ve attempted to spread the word as far as we can.’’

Wishoski said tentative plans call for National Grid to lease the property to the authority, which would sublease it to a developer. Once final proposals are submitted and reviewed, “we’ll spend the next few weeks on it, and then make our recommendation to National Grid,’’ he said.

The city wants a development that will help boost the downtown economy, where a number of restaurants have opened in recent years, Wishoski said. “This is a big opportunity for the city to really maximize the value of the site, to create something that will have a really good spinoff effect for the other downtown businesses,’’ Wishoski said.

Bok said his group’s proposal would would make use of 1,500 spaces in parking garages that would be available during night and weekend games.

“We think it’s a wonderful site for a ballpark, given its proximity to the MBTA and the parking garages,’’ he said.

Bok said the stadium would be modeled on one in Springfield, Mo., where a Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals plays. “It will be a great stadium for baseball, but also a place where families can have fun,’’ he said.

“There would be rides, slides, and activities for kids on the concourse.’’

In recent years, Bok’s group has pursued sites near Boston College High School in Dorchester and at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown. Now he hopes to hit a home run in Malden.

Bok said the minor league team would bring high-quality baseball to Greater Boston. The league’s alumni include former major league stars such as Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson, who at that point were trying to revive their careers.

“A lot of the players are still trying to show that they still can come back,’’ Bok said. “The level of ball is very good.’’

Kathy McCabe can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company

12/2/11 Minor league baseball stadium proposed for Malden center - The Boston Globe…/minor_league_baseball_stadium_proposed_for_malden_center/

Boston Globe Editorials

July 24, 2007 - Baseball: Field of Impossible Dreams (Boston Globe Editorial)

"If you build it, he will come" is the famous line from the 1989 baseball movie "Field of Dreams." In Boston, however, it's a big if. Investors seeking to host an independent, professional-grade baseball team in Boston are running low on possible venues. Traffic concerns around Moakley Field in South Boston and space problems at Boston University's Nickerson Field upended two early efforts. Another effort to site a stadium on the Boston College High campus fell short with some of the school's trustees. And now the trustees of Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown have given short shrift to a proposal by the Boston Baseball Field of Dreams group. Boston would benefit from this kind of wholesome, affordable entertainment. So far, at least, there are no excessive demands for public subsidies. And the stadium could come with a portable bubble capable of extending sports into the colder months for a hosting school or community. It would be a shame to see these investors driven from the field.

March 10, 2006 - A Minor Field of Dreams (Boston Globe Editorial)

BOSTON DOESN'T need a minor league baseball franchise to strengthen civic identity, like a Bridgeport, Conn., or to spark economic development, like a Brockton or Lynn. But there is plenty of need here for the kind of affordable family entertainment offered by independent, professional-grade baseball.

Alexander Bok, a Boston attorney, says he wants to build a 6,000- seat minor league stadium in a location with convenient public transportation and existing parking. He cites both Moakley Park in South Boston and Nickerson Field at Boston University as ideal venues, though each would pose problems. The first order of business should be to determine if a minor-league franchise makes sense in a major-league city. We think it could.

The most frugal family of four would be hard-pressed to spend less than $200 for an outing to Fenway Park, where Red Sox fans pay the highest average ticket prices in the major leagues. While a visit to Fenway remains one of the city's great offerings, Boston lacks a place where a couple of kids with a few dollars in their pockets can find decent seats to watch professional baseball.

The likes of David Ortiz won't be walking through the clubhouse doors of the Canadian-American or Atlantic leagues, home to many players released from the farm teams affiliated with Major League Baseball. But fans of the Worcester Tornadoes, Brockton Rox, and similar franchises can expect to pay about $8 for good seats and a chance to soak up some baseball while the youngest enjoy the play areas and theme nights.

The Menino administration is tight-lipped, waiting to gauge both the reaction of the Red Sox and community groups. The Red Sox (a share of which is owned by the New York Times Co., parent of The Boston Globe) could use their clout with City Hall to crush this nascent effort by a potential, albeit tiny, competitor. Such a move would be shortsighted. The Red Sox welcomed 2,847,888 fans through the turnstiles last season. The Sox sellout streak stands at 226 games. How grudging it would seem if the 2004 world champions were to block a start-up team where the payroll for an entire 22-player roster is capped at less than $100,000.

Bok may be a bit too optimistic when it comes to siting such a club. Moakley Park in South Boston poses major traffic challenges, and even bigger concerns about using public parklands for a private enterprise. Boston University, which does not even field a college baseball team, won't be rushing into any deal, either. Plus there are the usual concerns over capital and community opposition. This might be a long shot. But anyone with a plan that links affordable family entertainment with baseball in Boston deserves a chance to show their stuff.

Boston globe ARCHIVE (PRE-MALDEN) 
March 8, 2006 - Page One: Sites eyed for a minor league team - Baseball park touted for BU or S. Boston

July 22, 2007 - Looking to residents to step up to the plate
MALDEN PARK - Press ArchivESpress-archive.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0
Coverage of the MRA Hearing of January 12, 2012 MRA_Press_Coverage.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0


Ballpark in Malden one step closer to reality

By Jarret Bencks |  GLOBE CORRESPONDENT     DECEMBER 20, 2012


Mayor Gary Christenson signs a bat at a press conference on the agreement to build a minor league ballpark.

Developers planning to build a $50 million baseball park on an old National Grid gas plant site in Malden will pay about $20 million over the course of a 40-year lease with the utility provider, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Globe.

Mayor Gary Christenson,  US Representative Ed Markey, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Massachusetts National Grid president Marcy Reed  celebrated the agreement at Malden Government Center Monday afternoon by signing Louisville Slugger  bats.

Markey, a Democrat who has lived four streets over from the proposed development site on Commercial Street his entire life, has high hopes for the project.

“This is the best day for Malden in my 36 years of being a congressman for this city,” Markey said Monday. “This is a moment that is going to be the transformation of this city.”

Development Group Boston Baseball Field of Dreams LLC,  led by lawyer Alexander Bok,  plans to build a 6,372-seat park  at 100 Commercial St. to host a team in theAtlantic League of Professional Baseball,  a minor league that is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.  The group is eyeing a grand opening in 2015, but obstacles remain before that can happen.

The National Grid site takes up 6.4 acres, but the design for the park requires the acquisition of three other parcels totaling 2.7 acres.  The lots are home to L&L Services at 11 Canal St.,  Spadafora’s Auto Parts at 129 Charles St.,  and Collex auto body repair at 124 Centre St. 

On Monday, Bok described the other parcel owners as “fierce” negotiators who were previously unwilling to engage in serious talks until the National Grid parcel was purchased.

“We’re at stage 1A,” Bok said. “Now that we’re real, we’ll see what happens with that.”

Under the agreement with National Grid, Bok’s group would pay only $100 until a completion date on the park is finalized, or until a permanent certificate of occupancy  is issued.

If that happens, the group would pay $100,000 in its first year of operation; $200,000  in its second; $325,000 in its third; and then the previous year’s rate plus a 2.5  percent increase each year after, according to the agreement.

The lease would run 40 years, with the developer having an opportunity to renew the lease for 10 years for the following four decades.

Coakley had to sign off on the lease because the site — which has been a gas plant since the 19th century — contains contaminents and requires environmental remediation. An agreement has been worked out with National Grid, Coakley said, but its details were not available Monday. The site has been vacant since the utility moved to another site in Malden earlier this year.

The terms of the lease had previously been approved by both parties and the Malden Redevelopment Authority in November, but the financial figures had not released because Coakley had not yet approved the deal.

Bok said the park — located in close proximity to the Malden Center Station on the MBTA Orange Line — is expected to produce about 125 part-time jobs during the six-month season, along with about 25 permanent,  full-time positions. In addition to hosting about 70  games per year, the park also would host concerts and perhaps graduations, Bok said.

The Atlantic League currently has eight teams, which averaged about 4,400  in attendance last year, according to figures from the league.

Plans are in the works to host city-run public forums on the proposed project and conduct citizen surveys in coming weeks, Christenson said Monday. It would eventually have to go through the zoning approval process and meet other city requirements.

Before signing the commemorative bats, Christenson said the project was viewed as an economic driver for the city.

“I believe this project has the potential to not only revitalize this site but serve as an economic catalyst for the entire downtown,” the mayor said.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at [email protected].