Everett soccer stadium plan under review on Beacon Hill

A soccer stadium proposal in Everett backed by Robert Kraft could bring congestion and heavy foot traffic to areas of Boston directly across the Mystic River from the potential site, a Boston city councilor and a city planner told lawmakers on Beacon Hill Tuesday afternoon.

A plan to free up about 43 acres of land along the river to build an arena and park has prompted pushback from officials in Boston, including Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration, who say they have been left out of conversations around a stadium that could draw thousands to games or large events.

The proposal has been cast as potential boon for Everett, with Mayor Carlo DeMaria arguing the city could see millions returned to its coffers if a private development group revamps an outdated powerplant that sits on the site now.

As state lawmakers take another shot at reviewing a bill from Sen. Sal DiDomenico that would open up a pathway to developing the soccer stadium, Boston Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison said the plan does not include “significant parking” at the stadium.

Jemison said there is not enough information for the City of Boston to take a stance on the proposal but suggested Charlestown and surrounding neighborhoods “will bear the brunt” of the transportation impacts as the MBTA’s Sullivan Square stop is the nearest public transit option.

“The project would also rely on the Alford Street Bridge as a pedestrian connection to Sullivan Square, which is currently not safe as a major pedestrian thoroughfare. Last December, a pedestrian was killed at the intersection of Dexter and Alford (Streets),” Jemison said at a hearing before the Legislature’s Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee.

DeDomenico’s bill would remove the land at 173 Alford Street from a designation that restricts its use to commercial fishing, shipping, or other vessel-related activities and allow a developer to convert it into a “professional soccer stadium and a waterfront park.”

The measure has the backing of the Kraft Group and the New England Revolution, a professional soccer team owned by Kraft that could move to the future stadium from its spot at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

The location the Kraft Group is eyeing currently features a rundown power plant that DeMaria said can only be cleaned up with the financial and political power of a private development firm.

“They can get it done. They (can) get it cleaned up and build something that’s going to be beautiful,” he said. “There’s no parking spaces. I told them, if we go forward, there’ll be no parking there. We’re going to rely on public transit. We’re going to build out the transportation system.”

Everett is expected to lose out on $55 million in tax revenue between fiscal year 2021 and 2026 “due to the loss of value from this parcel,” DeMaria said. The city has already lost $28 million since fiscal year 2020, he said.

“We need this legislation to help pull Everett back from the harm this loss of revenue is causing our community,” he said.

Traffic concerns and the ability for elected officials and the public from Boston to participate in public meetings on the matter were top of mind for some.

Boston City Councilor Sharon Durkan, who represents the West End Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, and Mission Hill, said it would “be a nightmare for traffic” if TD Garden and the proposed stadium had events at the same time.

“Because I represent Fenway Park and because I represent TD Garden. I know that people are often willing to take the ticket and take resident parking if … the ticket is less than parking cost,” Durkan said.

New England Revolution President Brian Bilello said he expects the majority of fans would use public transportation “as they do with most urban stadiums, including new options for getting to a destination via water transit.”

“We’re trying to get the stadium and our club to public transportation, and what we hear from most of our fans is they want to have public access to the stadium. They want to have public transportation. So for us, public transportation is the entire reason why we want to be up in Everett and Greater Boston,” he said.

DiDomenico, a Democrat from Everett, successfully added language to a multi-billion spending bill in the fall that would have cleared the land for development. But it was ultimately cut from the final version after House Democrats said they had many unanswered questions.

Rep. Jerry Perisella, who co-chairs the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee, said he believes the proposal has a chance to move forward this time around.

“I do think that there is some compelling arguments about what would happen to this site otherwise if we don’t allow a stadium to be built,” he said. “There are a lot of environmental issues related to that site.”

A rendering provided by the Kraft Group shows one possible design for a professional soccer stadium in Everett should lawmakers greenlight a bill that creates a pathway for construction. (Courtesy of the Kraft Group)
A rendering provided by the Kraft Group shows one possible design for a professional soccer stadium in Everett should lawmakers greenlight a bill that creates a pathway for construction. (Courtesy of the Kraft Group)


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