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Malden's Field of Dreams project has new life after agreement with Minor League Baseball

http://malden.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/maldens-field-of-dreams-project-has-new-life-after-agreement-with-minor-league-baseball


By Andrew Cardinale

malden@wickedlocal.com

December 14, 2016


The Malden Field of Dreams project, once thought dead, could still become a reality.

At the Dec 13. meeting of the City Council, Mayor Gary Christenson announced that the development team behind the project has reached an agreement with Minor League Baseball to explore having an affiliated team play at the proposed stadium near the Malden Center MBTA station.

"The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than an Independent league team, which was the original proposal when this process began, are many, including that there is a player development contract with a Major League team which supplies its prospects, manager and coaches to the team," Christenson explained. "Unlike Independent league baseball teams, it is not unusual for many of the players on an affiliated minor league team to later play in the major leagues."

With the agreement in place from MiLB, the development team, led by Boston Baseball Field of Dreams founder and CEO Alex Bok, still has a lot of work ahead of it. The team must now negotiate with Major League Baseball and its various teams to find a club willing to have a minor league affiliate in Malden. In addition, as was pointed out by Councilor Neil Kinnon during the meeting, MLB retains veto power over the placement of any minor league affiliate within 10 miles of one of its teams. With Fenway Park just a short T ride away from the proposed stadium location, the league would have to sign off on the project for it to proceed.

From there, Bok and his team would have to re-negotiate development and financing deals with all other relevant parties, including the mayor, City Council, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, the state government, banks and other investors, and National Grid, upon whose property the bulk of the stadium would reside. Any prior agreements made with these parties have since expired, as the project has languished for some time.

The last piece of this negotiating puzzle, and the one that could prove to be the most difficult, would be the acquisition of abutting property where several local businesses currently reside. According to Christenson, the developer is willing to purchase the land at current market value plus a premium. It is likely that any purchases would have to be done privately, as several councilors nixed the idea of taking the land via eminent domain.

"I have no intention of voting for eminent domain for these properties," said Councilor Paul Condon.

According to a statement made by Councilor John Matheson during the meeting, Bok will have until the end of January to put most of this plan, particularly the MLB portion, in place. From there, he is expected to meet with the council on Feb. 7 and, if all goes well, construction would begin this summer for a 2019 opening.

Other aspects of the project seem to be moving ahead more quickly. Christenson explained that Bok selected Turner Sports Construction as the contractor for the stadium. Over the past 10 years, the firm has been responsible for many new major and minor league ballparks, including the new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park in Washington D.C. and Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Christenson said the stadium, if completed, could be the site for other events, including concerts, movies, graduations and the home field for Malden High School's varsity baseball team. In addition, it could serve as the new home field for the Boston City Football Club, which currently plays at Malden Catholic's Brother Gilbert Field. BCFC is a member of the National Premier Soccer League, a FIFA-recognized tier 4 league (Major League Soccer, for comparison, is a tier 1 league).

The idea of a ballpark in Malden began close to a decade ago as a way to revitalize land that National Grid owns but no longer uses. After hearing nothing on the project for a long time, the council voted this past March to impose a 60-day deadline on Bok and his team to present a new business plan for the site, or else the city would move on.

MRA Executive Director Deborah Burke explained at the time that, despite the potential benefits to the city, and other amenities including a restaurant and convention space, banks were reticent to back a project for a non-affiliated team.

Though that deadline has since come and gone, the critical agreement with MiLB may be just what is needed to revitalize this long-dormant project, which Christenson said would benefit other development efforts in the area.

"The placement of a ballpark, year-round restaurant and related meeting facilities is an optimal way of putting this environmentally-sensitive parcel to use for the community's benefit," he said. "It would complement and spur the larger economic development that has been occurring in the downtown area and assist with the revitalization of Malden Square."

As this is a sensitive time in the negotiating process, Christenson declined to elaborate on any other details surrounding the project.

 



http://ballparkdigest.com/2016/12/15/malden-ballpark-focus-shifts-to-affiliated-baseball/

Malden Ballpark Focus Shifts to Affiliated Baseball

by Kevin Reichard on December 15, 2016 in Minor-League Baseball, News











After years of working toward an independent team playing out of a new $60-million ballpark in Malden, Mass., developer Alex Bok has shifted his focus toward affiliated baseball, with the blessings of Minor League Baseball.

If you peruse the archives, you’ll be reminded of Bok’s decade-plus quest to bring a ballpark to a brownfield area in downtown Malden, a northern Boston suburb. For virtually all that time he was focused on independent baseball, though he never had an official deal with the Atlantic League for a franchise.

Now, however, Bok has a small window of opportunity to put together a deal to place an affiliated team in Malden, as he has until Jan. 31 to prepare a preliminary plan. That’s a short time to have something in place, to be sure, and there are plenty of moving pieces, including approval from the Boston Red Sox. From Wicked Local:

In a Nov. 15 letter, Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner granted the development team permission to explore bringing a club to Malden, in response to a request made one day prior by Boston Baseball Field of Dreams founder and CEO Alexander Bok. O’Conner gave Bok until Dec. 15 to submit a written summary of his exploration, but Bok requested additional time this week and was granted an extension through Jan. 31.

O’Conner clarified in his letter that permission to explore does not imply approval of moving a team to Malden, which would need to be approved separately.

This will not be an easy process. First, Bok needs to come to a new deal with National Grid to acquire the land, as well as any newly identified adjoining parcels. Second, he needs to finalize a financing deal. Third, he needs to come up with a tenant acceptable to Minor League Baseball, a team’s league and the Boston Red Sox. (Three affiliated leagues operate in this space — the International League, the Eastern League and the NY-Penn League, whose Lowell Spinners franchise is 25 miles or so from Malden.) And he wanted to have this all done by this summer, to begin construction for a 2019 opening. While plenty of work has been done on the project — it was a topic of some discussion at the Winter Meetings — there’s a lot more to be completed in a very short amount of time.

Here’s the letter presented by Malden Mayor Gary Christenson to the Malden City Council:

“Madame President and members of the Council:

“I am here to provide you with an update on the status of the proposed ballpark. After many months of discussion with Minor League Baseball and nearby affiliated teams, the development team led by Alex Bok has secured the right to explore having an affiliated Minor League Baseball team in Malden.

“The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than an Independent league team, which was the original proposal when this process began are many, including that there is a player development contract with a Major League team which supplies its prospects, manager and coaches to the team. Unlike Independent league baseball teams, it is not unusual for many of the players on an affiliated minor league team to later play in the major leagues.

“This has been a highly-complicated process but thanks to the continued hard work and dedication of our United States Senator Ed Markey and State Representative Paul Donato along with their federal and state colleagues and National Grid, the developer can now begin the process of securing a team. Final approvals and reviews by all parties, including myself, the City Council, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, State government, National Grid, investors, banks, Minor League Baseball and other nearby affiliated teams, will, of course, be based on the specifics of the final project proposal.

“It is critically important to note that the rules and regulations of Minor League Baseball prevent at this time any speculation or discussion about details on what team, league, or affiliation could be in Malden but the fact that the go ahead was given by Minor League Baseball is crucial to the project moving forward. These same rules have kept the developer from discussing its efforts publicly over the past few years.

“While securing the go ahead from Minor League Baseball, the development team has also been working with the Boston City Football Club which is a Division 4 soccer team within the United States soccer system on adapting the design of the ballpark to enable a soccer playing field that meets international FIFA standards. As a result, there is now a substantive agreement that the Club will play its 10-14 home games at the ballpark, primarily on Sunday evenings with occasional exhibition games on another night and that the facility will be used for the Club’s youth training programs.

“Financially, both Eastern Bank and East Boston Savings Bank have indicated to the developer their continued strong interest in funding the proposed ballpark. Private investment in the project, through equity and debt, is estimated to be $60M.

“The project will be union-built. With respect to construction, the developer has selected Turner Sports Construction as its proposed contractor. Turner is the leading sports construction company in the United States and has built many of the leading minor league and major league ballparks over the past ten years, including Nationals Park in Washington DC, Yankee Stadium, and Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.

“In addition, now that the development team has formal written permission from Minor League Baseball that it can move forward with exploring an affiliated team in Malden, the developer has advised me that they will work toward the purchase of the abutting property owners parcels at current market value plus a premium. I expect that process, which I helped facilitate several years ago, will resume within a month.

“For those concerned about the feasibility of the ballpark, I have been told that no affiliated minor league team has failed in the last 30 years and there are few better markets for baseball in America than the Greater Boston area. Minor league baseball will not only offer an affordable family entertainment option but will promote Malden to families and businesses throughout the Commonwealth and bring significant economic benefit to our many restaurants and other local businesses. The placement of a ballpark, year-round restaurant and related meeting facilities is an optimal way of putting this environmentally-sensitive parcel to use for the community’s benefit. It would complement and spur the larger economic development that has been occurring in the downtown area and assist with the revitalization of Malden Square.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t also emphasize the community building opportunity that the ballpark and minor league baseball will bring to Malden. Not only will a ballpark provide an opportunity for baseball fans young and old to enjoy the national pastime but it will also serve as a recreational center and forge closer ties with Malden neighbors. Minor league baseball teams contribute thousands of dollars back to the community and the ballpark will be a site for other events including concerts, movies, graduations, and serve as the future home of the Malden High School Golden Tornadoes Varsity Baseball Team.

“Finally, I know you have numerous questions and the developer has committed to presenting additional details and the remaining open issues to the City Council on Tuesday, February 7th. Once the open items are resolved, the developer’s timeline would be to break ground this summer and open for baseball in 2019.

“Thank you. I will now take any questions you may have. Please understand, my answers must be constrained by the rules and guidelines as set forth by Minor League Baseball so as not to endanger the proposed project.”

RELATED STORES: Malden ballpark plan adds conference space, with $80M price tag; New Malden ballpark pushed back to 2016; Letter of intent signed for new Malden ballpark; Lease approved for proposed Malden ballpark; Lease issues delay Malden ballpark planning; Parcels eyed for new Malden ballpark; Malden ballpark plan on path for preliminary approval; New ballpark pitched in MaldenArchives: Sept. 3-9, 2006Archives: March 5-11, 2006

 
Gamechanger: Malden-based group seeking to build professional baseball stadium gets approval to seek a minor league team affiliated with MLB



http://www.maldennews.com/single-post/2016/12/14/Gamechanger-Malden-based-group-seeking-to-build-professional-baseball-stadium-gets-approval-to-seek-a-minor-league-team-affiliated-with-MLB



December 14, 2016



By JUSTIN McALLISTER
Malden Evening News &
Medford Daily Mercury

 

MALDEN—It’s a gamechanger, that’s for sure.


The long-running, multi-faceted story of potentially building a multi-use professional baseball stadium in the heart of Malden Square took a major turn Tuesday night when Malden Mayor Gary Christenson told the Malden City Council that Minor League Baseball (MiLB) has given formal approval to the
local Malden-based Field of Dreams group to “explore having an  (MLB) affiliated Minor League Baseball team in Malden.”


This represents a major change in the original, standing proposal by the group, which four years ago first pitched the plan to the city of Malden, calling for a $45-55 million, 5,000-seat-plus professional baseball stadium, primarily located on the existing National Grid site.

Original plans called for the pursuit of a professional baseball team from the independent leagues, of which there are several nationwide, but which are far fewer in both numbers of teams and resources for those outfits.


With approval by MiLB to seek a potential Major League Baseball (MLB)-affiliated team to play in the stadium, it changes the outlook as there are from 6-8 MiLB teams associated with all of the 30 Major League baseball franchises, over 200 nationwide and dozens now existing in the New England and N.Y.-N.J.-Mid-Atlantic area alone.


In his remarks to the City Council Tuesday, Mayor Christenson acknowledged the support and assistance of federal, state and local officials including U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a Malden resident and state Rep. Paul Donato, D-Malden, Medford, on this project.

The Mayor also stressed that the minor league team aspect is now a key proponent on the eventual viability of the project, adding that a final proposal still faces many steps involving all state and local stakeholders.

“Final approvals and reviews by all parties, including myself, the City Council, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, State government, National Grid,  investors, banks, Minor League Baseball and other nearby affiliated teams, will, of course, be based on the specifics of the final project
proposal,” Mayor Christenson said.


A major hurdle has been the lack of an agreement of the business and land owners on the east side of the National Grid site on upper Canal Street with officials from the ballpark project planners and others to sell those land parcels and relocate, as those parcels are needed for the overall siting of the facility.

Apparently those efforts will be ongoing pursuant to the expected revised
project proposal.


Mayor Christenson said in his remarks a meeting will be held before the City Council on February 7, 2017 where the developer would be present to lay out another update.

The Mayor touted benefits that would come to the city if the plan for the new stadium came to fruition and noted the added element of professional soccer playing its home schedule at a new stadium would be included.

“The development team has also been working with the Boston City Football Club which is a Division 4 soccer team within the United States soccer system on adapting the design of the ballpark to enable a soccer playing field that meets international FIFA standards.

“As a result, there is now a substantive agreement that the Club will play its 10-14 home games at the ballpark, primarily on Sunday evenings with occasional exhibition games on another night and that the facility will be used for the Club’s youth training programs,” Mayor Christenson said in his remarks.

Additionally, as to the community benefits for Malden, he reiterated that the Malden High School Golden Tornado baseball team would play its home games at the new stadium, if it was built, among other benefits.


“(There is a ) community building opportunity that the ballpark and minor league baseball will bring to Malden. Not only will a ballpark provide an opportunity for baseball fans young and old to enjoy the national pastime but it will also serve as a recreational center and forge closer ties with Malden neighbors,” the Mayor said.


“Minor league baseball teams contribute thousands of dollars back to the community and the ballpark will be a site for other events including concerts, movies, graduations, and serve as the future home of the Malden High School Golden Tornadoes Varsity Baseball Team,” he added.
 

 

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson's remarks to Malden City Council on baseball stadium proposal's status


December 14, 2016



“Madame President and members of the Council:

“I am here to provide you with an update on the status of the proposed ballpark. After many months of discussion with Minor League Baseball and nearby affiliated teams, the development team led by Alex Bok has secured the right to explore having an affiliated Minor League Baseball team in Malden.

“The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than an Independent league team, which was the original proposal when this process began are many, including that there is a player development contract with a Major League team which supplies its prospects, manager and coaches to the team. Unlike Independent league baseball teams, it is not unusual for many of the players on an affiliated minor league team to later play in the major leagues.

“This has been a highly-complicated process but thanks to the continued hard work and dedication of our United States Senator Ed Markey and State Representative Paul Donato along with their federal and state colleagues and National Grid, the developer can now begin the process of securing a team. Final approvals and reviews by all parties, including myself, the City Council, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, State government, National Grid, investors, banks, Minor League Baseball and other nearby affiliated teams, will, of course, be based on the specifics of the final project proposal.

“It is critically important to note that the rules and regulations of Minor League Baseball prevent at this time any speculation or discussion about details on what team, league, or affiliation could be in Malden but the fact that the go ahead was given by Minor League Baseball is crucial to the project moving forward. These same rules have kept the developer from discussing its efforts publicly over the past few years.

“While securing the go ahead from Minor League Baseball, the development team has also been working with the Boston City Football Club which is a Division 4 soccer team within the United States soccer system on adapting the design of the ballpark to enable a soccer playing field that meets international FIFA standards. As a result, there is now a substantive agreement that the Club will play its 10-14 home games at the ballpark, primarily on Sunday evenings with occasional exhibition games on another night and that the facility will be used for the Club’s youth training programs.

“Financially, both Eastern Bank and East Boston Savings Bank have indicated to the developer their continued strong interest in funding the proposed ballpark. Private investment in the project, through equity and debt, is estimated to be $60M.

“The project will be union-built. With respect to construction, the developer has selected Turner Sports Construction as its proposed contractor. Turner is the leading sports construction company in the United States and has built many of the leading minor league and major league ballparks over the past ten years, including Nationals Park in Washington DC, Yankee Stadium, and Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.

“In addition, now that the development team has formal written permission from Minor League Baseball that it can move forward with exploring an affiliated team in Malden, the developer has advised me that they will work toward the purchase of the abutting property owners parcels at current market value plus a premium. I expect that process, which I helped facilitate several years ago, will resume within a month.

“For those concerned about the feasibility of the ballpark, I have been told that no affiliated minor league team has failed in the last 30 years and there are few better markets for baseball in America than the Greater Boston area. Minor league baseball will not only offer an affordable family entertainment option but will promote Malden to families and businesses throughout the Commonwealth and bring significant economic benefit to our many restaurants and other local businesses. The placement of a ballpark, year-round restaurant and related meeting facilities is an optimal way of putting this environmentally-sensitive parcel to use for the community’s benefit. It would complement and spur the larger economic development that has been occurring in the downtown area and assist with the revitalization of Malden Square.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t also emphasize the community building opportunity that the ballpark and minor league baseball will bring to Malden. Not only will a ballpark provide an opportunity for baseball fans young and old to enjoy the national pastime but it will also serve as a recreational center and forge closer ties with Malden neighbors. Minor league baseball teams contribute thousands of dollars back to the community and the ballpark will be a site for other events including concerts, movies, graduations, and serve as the future home of the Malden High School Golden Tornadoes Varsity Baseball Team.

“Finally, I know you have numerous questions and the developer has committed to presenting additional details and the remaining open issues to the City Council on Tuesday, February 7th. Once the open items are resolved, the developer’s timeline would be to break ground this summer and open for baseball in 2019.

“Thank you. I will now take any questions you may have. Please understand, my answers must be constrained by the rules and guidelines as set forth by Minor League Baseball so as not to endanger the proposed project.”


DEVELOPMENT Ballpark conference center passes budget hurdles

Monday
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at 8:06 AM Updated Jun 16, 2014 at 12:39 PM

By Nathan Lamb

A plan to add state-funded conference meeting space at the proposed Malden ballpark is making progress at Beacon Hill.
Funding for the meeting space is part of capital bond bills passed by both the House and Senate, according to a release from Sen. Jason Lewis.

"Local economic development is one of my highest priorities, and this project promises to be an economic boon to Malden," said Lewis. "The project will bring more jobs to Malden, and the completed facility will benefit the entire region economically and recreationally. It is yet another statement that Malden is one of Massachusetts' premier cities."

The Lewis release stated a similar proposal is in the House bill, but would still need to pass a few more hurdles.


"The Senate and House will now forge a compromise bill for final passage before it moves to the Governor's desk," said the release.

The 6,300 seat Independent League ballpark is being proposed by Boston Baseball Field of Dreams.


Asked about the state funding, company president Alex Bok said it's very important to the project moving forward, adding the House and Senate approvals were steps in the right direction.

"The legislative process isn't finished until it's finished, but this is an important step," Bok said. "It's an important piece of the equation."


Bok said the meeting space was added in response to a local advisory group,
which wanted to see year-round uses at the site.


"There a real desire that we have year-round uses," said Bok. "We heard that loud and clear."
A call to Mayor Gary Christenson's office was referred to the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA), which has been the city's point agency on the proposed ballpark for the National Grid site off Commercial Street.


MRA director Deborah Burke said the conference area would include 15,000 square feet of community meeting space, 6,000 square feet for a restaurant, plus a kitchen and storage space. Burke said the meeting area would be located on an upper level of the ballpark, near the corner of Commercial Street and Route 60. The Lewis release did not give a dollar figure on the senate bill funding for the conference area. Burke said the House figure was $20 million.


Plans for the ballpark were unveiled in January of 2012, but groundbreaking has been pushed back several times. Cost of the ballpark was estimated at $51 million in 2012, but that figure has since grown to $80 million.


Asked about the rising costs, Bok said the two figures aren't really an "apples to apples" comparison.


"We've added a restaurant and a conference center...that combined with the environmental costs due to the site conditions, leads to a total project cost of $80 million," said Bok.
Initial projections had the ballpark opening in spring of 2014. If the state funding comes through, Bok anticipated the meeting space and restaurant to open by mid-2016, with the ballpark opening in early 2017.


Bok cited environmental conditions at the former industrial site as reason it would be "challenging" to open the ballpark earlier.


The ballpark proposal would require acquisition of three neighboring parcels. Bok anticipated any "issues" there would be resolved soon.


Asked about the biggest factor that will determine if this project moves forward, Bok said the state funding is key. He thanked state Rep. Paul Donato for supporting the conference proposal in the House, adding Sen. Ed Markey has been a staunch supporter of the project throughout the process.
Burke's understanding is that Bok will make a decision on the project's future soon.


"By summer's end there will be a decision one way or another if he's moving forward with this project, said Burke.


"That is a true statement," said Bok, when asked about the timeframe.

 


Developer: No city money for possible Minor League stadium in Malden


http://malden.wickedlocal.com/news/20161219/developer-no-city-money-for-possible-minor-league-stadium-in-malden


Posted Dec 19, 2016 at 1:08 PM

Updated Dec 19, 2016 at 1:08 PM

By Aaron Leibowitz

aleibowitz@wickedlocal.com




The city of Malden would not be asked to contribute any funding to a proposed stadium near the Malden Center MBTA station, a spokesperson for the Malden Field of Dreams project confirmed Friday.

"There will be no Malden city money," said the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous.

The project, originally proposed in 2011, appeared to have hit a dead end earlier this year. In March, the Malden City Council imposed a 60-day deadline for the developer to present an updated business plan.

But Malden Mayor Gary Christenson announced last Tuesday that Greater Boston Field of Dreams CEO Alexander Bok had gotten the go-ahead from Minor League Baseball to explore bringing an affiliated team to Malden.

Bok now has until Jan. 31 to gauge interest from Minor League clubs to see if they may be willing to relocate. He will present his findings to Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner by Jan. 31 and is expected to present to the Malden City Council on Feb. 7.

"He's going to have more details on most of the topics the mayor covered," the spokesperson said of the Feb. 7 meeting.

Bok had initially planned to bring an unaffiliated Independent League team to downtown Malden at a site enclosed by Centre, Commercial, Canal and Charles streets. But he was unable to secure the necessary funding.

Last week, Christenson said the latest iteration of the stadium would require approximately $60 million in private funding, and noted that Eastern Bank and East Boston Savings Bank may be interested in subsidizing the project.

The ballpark's original price tag was $52 million -- $31 million from financed debt and $21 million from equity investment. The project spokesperson chalked up the jump to $60 million to higher construction costs and more meeting space.

Bok had also asked the Legislature for approximately $20 million in state funding in 2014, after he added plans for a conference room with community meeting space and a restaurant at the behest of a local advisory board. That brought the total estimated cost to around $80 million.

In addition, the developers previously asked that the city of Malden pay the demolition costs if the venture were to fail and the stadium had to be torn down.

Bok and his team now have several hurdles to clear before the so-called Field of Dreams could become a reality. They must first find a club willing to move a minor league affiliate to Malden. Next, they would need the blessing of Major League Baseball, which retains veto power over the placement of any affiliated team within the Greater Boston region.

The developers would also need to re-negotiate development and financing deals with the mayor, City Council, Malden Redevelopment Authority, state government, banks and other investors, and National Grid, which owns the six acres where most of the stadium would stand.

Historically, the National Grid site has been used as a gas manufacturing facility; remediation efforts to remove contaminants at the site, including naphthalene and cyanide, have been ongoing since the late 1980s.

The last piece of the puzzle, and the one that could prove most difficult, would be the acquisition of three abutting parcels on two acres of land occupied by three local businesses: Collex Collision, L & L Services, and Spadafora Auto Parts.

Christenson said Tuesday that Bok is willing to purchase the land at current market value plus a premium. Several city councilors seemed opposed to taking the land by eminent domain.

This story was also reported on BallparkDigest.com

 


Removal of contaminants ongoing at proposed Malden stadium site


By Aaron Leibowitz

aleibowitz@wickedlocal.com


http://northofboston.wickedlocal.com/news/20170104/removal-of-contaminants-ongoing-at-proposed-malden-stadium-site


Early next month, Malden residents will learn whether plans for a Minor League baseball stadium near the Malden Center subway stop are likely to move forward. Either way, the work of removing contaminants from the ground at that location will continue.

From the mid-1800s to the early 1970s, the proposed stadium site was part of a 16-acre manufactured gas plant that generated gas from coal and oil, helping Malden light its street lamps and heat its homes. The plant shut down about 40 years ago, but the site is still contaminated by coal tars and other chemicals in the soil and groundwater.


Among the chemicals that have been detected on the site since 2015, according to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) records, are naphthalene, which can damage red blood cells and is classified as possibly carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; cyanide, which can be highly toxic; and benzo(a)pyrene, which has been linked to the formation of lung cancer.

National Grid, which owns the land and maintains an office building there, has been working since the late 1980s to remove contaminants at the site via the use of extraction wells, and it has reached a so-called "temporary solution" with the DEP. But it has yet to achieve "permanent solution" status.

"We're basically continuing to remove coal tar from the ground as part of our steps toward trying to achieve a permanent solution," said Kenneth Lento, who manages environmental remediation at the site for National Grid.


Lento said that, despite the presence of potentially dangerous chemicals in the ground, a baseball stadium would not constitute a health risk because National Grid would install a "cap" to separate the soil from the playing surface.

"If you don't play around in it, and don't get it on you and lick your hands, or eat, or smoke a cigarette, you generally don't have exposure," Lento said.

Even so, National Grid would likely install a vapor barrier or ventilation system in any development on the site to prevent gases from from entering a building.

"I don't think it would be a concern on this property," Lento said, "but we would put it on any development to make sure."

In the late 1990s, National Grid took steps to address the presence of gas-associated chemicals inside Piantedosi Baking Company on Commercial Street, which is part of the former gas plant site and is adjacent to the proposed stadium site.

Air samples taken at the bakery in February 2016 did not exceed DEP indoor air thresholds, according to a report prepared in October by National Grid consultant GZA GeoEnvironmental.

The former gas plant site also encompasses Callahan Park and a piece of MacDonald Stadium, both of which have had "caps" installed to protect people from the contaminated soil.

Lento acknowledged that the site is not conducive to residential development, in part because it would be difficult to ensure that residents are not exposed to the soil. Boston Baseball Field of Dreams CEO Alexander Bok offered a similar analysis when he penned his initial stadium proposal in 2011.

"[A] ballpark does not present heightened exposure concerns," Bok wrote, "as would, for example, a housing project, where residents (including more vulnerable children) spend thousands of hours a year."

Bok also suggested several measures to keep the ballpark environmentally safe for visitors, including:


  1. A cap or barrier, designed by National Grid, to create approximately 3.5 feet of separation between the ground and the artificial turf baseball field


  2. A ballpark design that accommodates existing extraction and monitoring wells, which would be shielded from public view


  3. A ballpark design that accommodates the possibility of adding new wells if necessary


  4. Relatively few enclosed spaces to prevent any challenges associated with vapor removal



A complete remediation of the site's environmental issues would cost National Grid "tens of millions of dollars," Bok wrote in 2011, pitching the plan to National Grid as "a wonderful opportunity to bring a brownfield back to life."

Assuming Bok does not significantly amend his original plans, the stadium would be enclosed by Centre, Commercial, Canal and Charles streets. Bok initially wanted an Independent League team to play at a 6,300-seat facility, but he was unable to secure the necessary funding. Now, the entrepreneur has shifted his focus to finding a Major League-affiliated club that might be willing to relocate to Malden.

Bok has until Jan. 31 to discuss that possibility with Minor League teams. He is scheduled to give an update to the Malden City Council on Feb. 7.

In addition to sitting on National Grid land, the stadium could displace three local businesses along Canal Street: Spadafora Auto Parts, L&L Services, and Collex Collision. Bok has not yet announced agreements with any of those businesses.

The ballpark's original price tag was $52 million -- $31 million from financed debt and $21 million from equity investment. Bok is now estimating $60 million in private funding.

Bok also petitioned the state legislature in 2014 for approximately $20 million in public funds, after he added plans for a conference room and a restaurant inside the stadium. It is unclear whether he would re-up that request if plans go forward.

 


MALDEN PARK - Press ArchivES

Coverage of the MRA Hearing of January 12, 2012 press-archive.htmlMRA_Press_Coverage.htmlboston-globe.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2
Boston Globe 
In Malden, dream to build baseball stadium is still alive













JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson spoke during a December 2013 press conference to announce an agreement to build a minor league ballpark on the former National Grid site in downtown Malden.
By Sean Teehan GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  DECEMBER 28, 2016
The groundbreaking in a long-running project to build a minor league baseball stadium in Malden is now targeted for summer, with the first pitch at the ballpark thrown in 2019.
At a Dec. 13 Malden City Council meeting, Mayor Gary Christenson said Pat O’Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, has allowed the Malden Field of Dreams project developers to seek a team with a Major League affiliation.
Christenson’s progress report came at the behest of councilors frustrated by a seeming lack of advancement of the project, proposed in 2011 and originally estimated to be finished by 2014.
“The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than an independent league team, which was the original proposal when this process began, are many,” Christenson told the council, noting that affiliated teams get financial and personnel support from their Major League teams and include prospects being prepped to rise in the system
“This has been a highly complicated process, but . . . the developer can now begin the process of securing a team,” Christenson said.
Alex Bok, the developer who founded Malden Field of Dreams, will deliver a detailed summary of where the project stands to the council on Feb. 7, he said in an e-mail to the Globe.
“We expect to demonstrate substantial progress . . . ” Bok said. “We expect to provide the City Council with additional details on those various issues and others, including the status of our discussions with the adjacent property owners.”
The proposed nine-acre site encompasses a National Grid-owned parcel on Commercial Street and three other private parcels on Canal and Center streets, said Deborah Burke, the Malden Redevelopment Authority’s executive director.
Developers must negotiate with the property owners, as City Council members have expressed reluctance to take property by eminent domain.
The proposed 6,000-seat stadium, across from the MBTA Orange Line, would include 16 private boxes, a kids’ zone, and a family-oriented grass picnic area, an online description of the plans said. The $60 million project would be financed privately, and the developers would not seek any bonding authority or other financial assistance from the city.
Councilor Neal Anderson said the project would be a boon for Malden and hopes Bok’s presentation will quell concerns about the pace of the work.
Paul Condon, another city councilor, supports the project but remains “very skeptical” that the developers will demonstrate much progress.
“It’s a very valuable piece of land near the T and near parking,” Condon said. “I wouldn’t be upset if they pulled away from the project, because eventually it’s going to get developed.”
Sean Teehan can be reached at spteehan@gmail.com.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2016/12/28/malden-dream-build-baseball-stadium-still-alive/KVLVQBptebRVNpU1tl6CPK/story.html?event=event25http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2016/12/28/malden-dream-build-baseball-stadium-still-alive/KVLVQBptebRVNpU1tl6CPK/story.html?event=event25http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2016/12/28/malden-dream-build-baseball-stadium-still-alive/KVLVQBptebRVNpU1tl6CPK/story.html?event=event25http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2016/12/28/malden-dream-build-baseball-stadium-still-alive/KVLVQBptebRVNpU1tl6CPK/story.html#commentshttp://www.greaterbostonballpark.com/home-plate.htmlhttp://www.greaterbostonballpark.com/malden-park.htmlhttp://www.greaterbostonballpark.com/malden-park.htmlmailto:spteehan@gmail.comshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4shapeimage_6_link_5shapeimage_6_link_6shapeimage_6_link_7



Malden stadium developers aim to break ground this year
http://northofboston.wickedlocal.com/news/20170207/malden-stadium-developers-aim-to-break-ground-this-year

Posted Feb 7, 2017 at 7:20 PM
Updated Feb 7, 2017 at 9:23 PM

By Aaron Leibowitz
aleibowitz@wickedlocal.com



Minor League Baseball may be coming to Malden, though hurdles still remain.
Malden Field of Dreams CEO Alexander Bok told the City Council on Tuesday that construction on a 6,000-seat stadium in downtown Malden could begin later this year, with first pitch scheduled for spring 2019.

Tuesday's update at the Senior Center followed a negotiating period that ended Jan. 31 to allow Bok to talk with Minor League owners about the possibility of moving a team to Malden. Bok said he could not disclose the details of those talks due to Minor League rules, but he did say that several owners in the New England region are interested in selling a club to him.
"We're where we need to be with relation to that," Bok said. "We are now in the process of securing a team and aiming to break ground later this year."
Perhaps the greatest challenge left for Bok is to reach sale agreements with the three abutting parcel owners: Spadafora Auto Parts, L&L Services, and Collex Collision. Those agreements proved elusive in recent years as Bok attempted to bring an Independent League team to the same site, an effort that ultimately fell short.
On Tuesday, Bok said he plans to provide an appraisal to the three businesses this month.
"We will provide written full market value offers, which include a premium, to each of the property owners by Feb. 17, along with a request to meet in person before the end of the month," Bok said. "We will do everything we can to negotiate private transactions."
Bok and his team must also re-negotiate deals with the City Council, Malden Redevelopment Authority, and National Grid, which owns most of the site where the ballpark would stand and continues to remove contamination from the soil.
Meanwhile, Minor League Baseball is reviewing information that Bok provided about his negotiations with team owners. The Boston Red Sox must approve any deal, as they are afforded veto power for new affiliates near Fenway Park. Bok said he expects to hear back from MiLB within about a week.
The project would cost approximately $60 million in private funds and $20 million in taxpayer money from the state, Bok said. Bok added that Eastern Bank and East Boston Savings Bank are interested in financing the stadium.
The City of Malden would not be asked to contribute any funding, although the city would serve as a financial backstop in the event that the franchise failed.
Turner Sports Construction, which has built numerous Major League parks around the country, would serve as the contractor, Bok said.
Bok noted that Division 4 soccer club Boston City FC, which plays its home games at Malden's Brother Gilbert field, would move to the new facility. In addition, the Malden High School baseball team would be granted use of the field.
During the winter months, Bok said, a "bubble" would cover the playing surface to promote year-round use.
Following Bok's lengthy statement Tuesday, the entrepreneur took several questions from councilors. Councilor Neal Anderson emphasized that he does not foresee the city using eminent domain to obtain the three abutting parcels.

Before the process of erecting a stadium could begin, Bok said National Grid would need to install a "cap" to prevent the public from being exposed to contaminants. Installing the cap would take 3-6 months, according to Bok, and building the stadium itself would take 10-15 months.
The council agreed to hear another update from Bok on April 11.
What was said
The full text of Bok's prepared remarks to the council is as follows:
Mr. Mayor, thank you. Madame President and members of the Council. My name is Alexander Bok and I'm the founder of Malden Baseball Field of Dreams. I am here to provide you with an update on the status of the proposed project.
I'd like to start with one of the elephants in the room.
I know that a number of you are skeptical about this project given the long time it has been under consideration.

You were right to have had those questions given the lack of visible public progress. I'm sorry that it happened, but unfortunately, it was necessary under the rules of Minor League Baseball as I will explain in a moment.
Tonight, I'm here to start the process of earning your trust and to give you comfort through details that this is a real project, with an team of experts on our side, that now has a chance of happening and we believe more strongly than ever that the project will bring economic development, new jobs and opportunities for Malden's youth.
Most importantly, and I cannot overstate its importance, as you heard from the Mayor in December, our group, Malden Baseball Field of Dreams, had secured in November the right to explore having an affiliated Minor League Baseball team here in Malden. This came about after literally years of on-and-off discussion with Minor League Baseball and its many constituents. Obtaining the rights to explore the Malden territory for an affiliated team has permitted us to reach out to third parties, including team owners, with whom we have had discussions and will continue to do so within the framework of Minor League Baseball's rules. We remain in contact with MiLB on our progress.
This affiliated team opportunity is a "game-changer" and sets Malden on the path to becoming only the second city in Massachusetts with an affiliated minor league team-the other being Lowell.
The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than a team from an Independent league, which was the original proposal when this process began, are many and substantial. Being an affiliated minor league team means that there is a player development contract with one of the thirty Major League teams which then supplies its players, prospects, manager and coaches to the minor league team in return for a percentage of our revenue. Unlike Independent league baseball teams, it is not unusual for many of the players on an affiliated minor league team to later play in the major leagues.
Our plan remains to build a ballpark with an approximate capacity of 6,000 fans that meets Minor League Baseball requirements. We believe the Malden market will certainly support that size of a facility.
For those who are skeptical about the viability of a minor league baseball team in Malden, let me make several points:

First, no affiliated minor league team anywhere in the country has gone out of business in the last 30 years. Independent baseball has a number of major success stories-Long Island and St Paul for example. But it also has had a number of failures, including Lynn, Brockton and Worcester. An affiliated team in Malden near the Orange Line with great parking is in a much better location and stronger economic situation than those other teams were.
Secondly, the Greater Boston market is a baseball-focused market where there are hundreds of thousands of families seeking affordable family entertainment. Interestingly, one of the most successful affiliated teams in the country is in Frisco, Texas, which is in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region, a market known not as a baseball market but as a major football market.
Please also note that in New York City itself, two affiliated minor league teams have done very well in Brooklyn and Staten Island. It is the financial stability of having an affiliated minor league team that will allow the project to go forward and be financeable.
I should note that these projects take a very long time. Both at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio and at Fifth Third Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the presidents of the teams walked me through their project timetable and how it took over ten years from the first idea to the first pitch. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for this project was issued by the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) in 2011.
Most importantly, I would ask that you see and evaluate the ballpark not primarily as a sports venue but as a venue for affordable family entertainment that will serve the residents and families of Malden for decades to come. A family of four will be able to come to the Malden Ballpark buy 4 tickets, food, drinks and parking and spend under $100.
It is critically important to note that the rules and regulations of Minor League Baseball prevent at this time any speculation or discussion about details on what team, league, or affiliation could be in Malden but the fact that the go ahead was given by Minor League Baseball is crucial to the project moving forward. These same rules unfortunately have kept our group from discussing our efforts publicly over the past few years.
Again, we are very sorry for the lack of communication but even discussing affiliated baseball would have likely endangered the entire project.

To get to where we are now has been a highly-complicated process. Thanks to the Mayor and MRA Director, along with Malden's own United States Senator, Ed Markey and State Representative Paul Donato, for all they have done. These public officials, in addition to their federal and state colleagues, have worked very hard and as a result we are now in the process of securing a team and aiming to break ground later this year.
Furthermore, we would not be before you but for the continued attention and dedication of many Malden residents and local elected officials, including several of you, who participated in our first public hearing in 2012 and helped shape and improve the project through a public advisory committee.
For those of you who would like more information, I would encourage you to go to our website, maldenballpark.com and click on the FAQ section to see the video from that 2012 hearing and view our most recent renderings.
We on Tuesday, April 11th, to provide a further update subject to your meeting schedule. In addition, we expect to return later in the spring for a public meeting where we will bring our full team for questioning as we all finalize the details of this project. Final approvals and reviews by all parties, including the City Council, the Mayor, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, State government, National Grid, investors, banks, Minor League Baseball and other nearby affiliated teams, will, of course, be based on the specifics of the final project proposal.
While working with Minor League Baseball, we have also been working with the Boston City Football Club, which is a Division 4 soccer team within the United States soccer system. We have successfully adapted the design of the ballpark to enable a soccer playing field that meets international FIFA standards. As a result, there is now an executed Letter of Intent that the ballpark will be used for the Club's youth training programs and the Boston City Football Club will play its 10-14 home games at the ballpark, primarily on Sunday evenings with the games ending by 9 PM and occasional exhibition games on another night.
Financially, we are pleased that both Eastern Bank and East Boston Savings Bank have indicated their continued strong interest in funding the proposed ballpark. Private investment in the project, through equity and debt, is estimated to be $60M.
The ballpark will be union-built. We have selected Turner Sports Construction as our contractor. Turner is the leading sports construction company in the United States and has built many of the leading minor league and major league ballparks over the past ten years, including Nationals Park in Washington DC, Yankee Stadium, the Wrigley Field expansion, Comerica Park in Detroit, Fifth Third Park-the home of the Toledo Mud Hens, and Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.

Another significant question is the issue of the three adjacent parcels. Now that we have formal written permission from Minor League Baseball to move forward with exploring an affiliated team here in Malden, we are working toward the private purchase of the abutting property owners parcels. Specifically, we have retained Robert LaPorte of Colliers International to appraise the three adjacent properties. Mr. LaPorte is one of the leading real estate appraisers in Greater Boston. Colliers will be providing us with current market value appraisals which do not include any deduction for potential environmental cleanup costs. We will provide written full market value offers which include a premium to each of the property owners by February 17th along with a request to meet in person before the end of the month. We will do everything we can to negotiate private transactions.
We have also reached out to National Grid as the owner of the largest parcel in the site and will meet soon to restart our previous negotiations and review the expired 2012 26 page Letter of Intent between our group, National Grid and the MRA.
As others have noted, Minor league baseball will not only offer an affordable family entertainment option but will promote Malden to families and businesses throughout the Commonwealth and bring significant economic benefit to Malden's many outstanding restaurants and other local businesses. The placement of a ballpark, year-round restaurant and related meeting facilities is an optimal way of putting this environmentally-sensitive parcel to use for the community's benefit. We expect to host concerts, movies, festivals, weddings and other community events. The ballpark project will complement and spur the larger economic development that has been occurring in the downtown area and assist with the revitalization of Malden Square. We are hopeful that a hotel in the immediate area could be the result of our future economic activity but that effort will not delay our work on the ballpark.
With respect to year round activity at the site, I would like to announce that we are hoping to have a bubble over the playing field from late November to March. This is not a domed ballpark. The bubble is just over the field, not the seats. It is very similar to what you see today if you drive past Harvard Stadium or Boston College's Alumni Field. The bubble would make it possible for soccer, lacrosse and baseball teams to rent, play and practice in the winter months. The bubble would cover the entire playing field, allowing full squad scrimmages for baseball teams. We have had significant interest from college baseball teams in the area who believe that being able to use such a practice facility in the winter would dramatically improve their college baseball teams and allow them to recruit a wider range of student-athletes. There is a similar facility in Flemington, New Jersey, called the Healthquest Sports Dome. No such facility exists in New England. The additional cost of the dome will be paid for by rental fees.
Items I want to mention that are unchanged from before:
• We will not seek bonding authority or financial assistance for construction from the City of Malden.
• The Malden High School Golden Tornadoes varsity baseball team will be able to play its regular season home games at the ballpark.

• The City and Malden High School will be able to use the facility for school, athletic or community activities such as graduations, celebrations or alumni events using a discounted fee schedule.
• Malden Baseball Field of Dreams will voluntarily comply with the Malden local hiring ordinance and make a concerted effort to hire local residents for the construction jobs.
• There will be over 100 part-time jobs at the ballpark during the baseball season, with priority given to Malden residents.
• Each home game will provide an opportunity for a youth group or other non-profit group to raise money. For example: 50/50 raffle, selling of programs, etc....;and
• There will be a community contest to name-the-team during 2018.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you of the very important family and community building opportunity that the ballpark and minor league baseball will bring to Malden and its residents. Not only will a ballpark provide an opportunity for baseball fans young and old to enjoy the national pastime and catch up with each other in a safe and comfortable environment, but it will also serve as a recreational and job center and forge closer ties with Malden neighbors.
As with other minor league baseball teams around the country, our Malden team will contribute thousands of dollars back to the community.
Once the open items are resolved, our projected timeline would be to open for baseball in spring 2019
THIS STORY WAS ALSO REPORTED IN THESE PUBLICATIONS:
 
Malden Ballpark Aims for 2019 Opening



Smalltown Mass. Sees the Future in $80M Ballpark




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