June 1, 2017
When discussions around a plan for a professional soccer stadium on Columbia Point crumbled this spring, hopeful eyes were already scanning the Boston landscape to keep the Kraft investment in the city.
State Rep. Russell Holmes, who represents parts of Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, and Roslindale, thought that there might be an opportunity to bring the stadium to another part of Dorchester.
“When things went awry in South Boston, I reached out about Franklin Field,” he told the Reporter on Friday. Representatives of the Kraft family, which owns the New England Revolution, a Major League Soccer team, and Revolution officials met with Holmes last month to check out the site and assess his proposal.
The analysis concluded that the location is “not a good fit” for the stadium, but might be a better fit for the America SCORES Boston program, Holmes said. America SCORES Boston is a soccer-centric organization that blends athletics and academic support for under-resourced youths, emphasizing health, literacy, and leadership. The after-school program serves about 1,400 kids each year.
“What we envisioned would be different in Franklin Field,” Holmes said. Without the ease of Red Line access that the JFK/UMass station offered at the Bayside, a new stadium would need more parking and infrastructure to support any increased traffic.
Franklin Field, which includes Harambee Park, lacks some of the attractive elements of the Bayside property, Holmes acknowledged. Although there would have been more available land, the stadium would not have had waterfront views or visibility from I-93.
A more expansive build-out is not out of the question further down the road, Holmes hopes.
“I want soccer,” he said. “I want professional soccer. I want all of that in our neighborhood… I wanted to make sure the Krafts and everyone knew that I am interested, that they have a partner.”
The representative said he will meet with the SCORES program president in a few weeks, with an eye to bringing a soccer site to the neighborhood. New England Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps is an honorary vice chair on the SCORES board of directors.
In the recent past, Patriots owner Robert Kraft had been in talks with the city and UMass Boston about building a stadium for his soccer team on the site of the former Bayside Expo Center. Amid pushback from the community and elected officials objecting to a lack of transparency in any discussions, the project was determined infeasible “at this point in time.”