SAND is opposing construction of a Major League baseball stadium on the South Boston waterfront. Members of the group have discussed the McCourt proposal for constructing a stadium for the Boston Red Sox on the company's 12-acre parcel. SAND members believe that the stadium does not present the best and broadest use of the waterfront, the inner harbor and outlying neighborhoods. we instead support the city's existing vision of this area as contributing to a vital, mixed-use neighborhood.
SAND members have noted that the ongoing public dialogue about the McCourt proposal does not present the viable and proposed alternatives to a waterfront stadium. The McCourt slide presentation and reports in local media outlets suggest that the alternative to a stadium is a maximum buildout of purely commercial development.
The public debate thus far has rarely included a discussion of the actual proposal for McCourt property presented in the City's own Public Realm Plan, which characterizes the McCourt parcel as an integral part of an evolving neighborhood -- with a high density of residential development, mixed-use commercial development, ample greenspace and related amenities.
The need for the residential component is crucial. The City of Boston has been in a housing crisis for a decade, seeing the creation of 125,000 jobs and only 5,000 market rate housing units over that period. Absent a baseball stadium, the McCourt parcel could support 1000-3000 housing units, thousands of commercial jobs, and even a small ballfield for local families to play on.
No mitigation can obscure the fact that a South Boston waterfront stadium would effectively eliminate the opportunity for such a scenario on the site and on nearby properties. For that reason SAND opposes the McCourt proposal and urges that the parcel in question be zoned and developed as part of the mixed-use neighborhood envisioned in the city's Seaport Public Realm Plan.
When Frank McCourt visited with SAND in 1998, he stated with conviction as he did until a few months ago, that neighborhood development was going to be his legacy to the waterfront.
Click here to read an article on the McCourt Company's presentation to SAND of 1998.
Click here to read comments on the McCourt Company's presentation to SAND of 2000.
SAND also registers the following concerns with a waterfront stadium:
The Public Realm Plan calls for small-scale city blocks and, in conjunction with the depression of the Central Artery, re-connecting the city to its waterfront. A stadium on the waterfront would entail an uninterrupted wall over 500' long, creating an immense barrier to the waterfront.
The public debate surrounding the McCourt proposal has not included an independent analysis of the traffic issues involved with the stadium. These issues include the lack of direct access from north of Boston once the Central Artery is completed (93 South exits into the Financial District), and the negative impact on travelers getting to and from the airport on the Mass. Pike extension. Nor does the McCourt presentation address the poor vehicular access to the site through South Boston (McCourt slides barely consider numerous South Boston access routes including the Broadway bridge, the West 4th St. bridge, A Street, D Street, L Street). The McCourt presentation places an imaginary line across residential South Boston, assuming ballpark visitors will pay for parking rather than park in the residential neighborhood and walk 3/4 of a mile.
As part of the federal Clean Air Act, the Massachusetts legislature instituted a parking freeze in South Boston, the regulations of which are currently undergoing final review and approval. The McCourt presentation has not indicated how the stadium's parking needs would be affected by the freeze, which mandates that virtually no new spaces may be added beyond a certain number of existing spaces on the South Boston waterfront.
The presentation also suggests that fans driving to games will use spaces vacated by office workers. With fans arriving as early as 5 p.m. for 7 p.m. games, this assumption is dubious at best.
The proposal notes that existing and proposed public transportation is available in the vicinity of the McCourt parcel. However, it does not address the carrying capacity of the MBTA before and after games. The Silver Line, as a bus line with a dedicated tunnel for only part of its length, will be at the mercy of all-but-certain traffic delays on its above-ground portion, and would create untenable crowding situations for fans and non-fans alike.
Also, the effect on South Station commuters of thousands of transit-riding ballgame fans should not be ignored or discounted. The effect will only be magnified in the future with the use of South Station by conventioneers as well as new employees in the proposed South Station commercial complex and in other new developments on the South Boston waterfront.
South Boston Community
The McCourt proposal touts the cachet of having the Red Sox name associated with South Boston. But with only 120 jobs -- not new, but mostly transferred from Fenway Park -- combined with additional traffic and parking pressures, the proposal pales in comparison with the opportunities and advantages of alternative development scenarios. Residential development would help relieve gentrification pressures on the South Boston housing stock, and commercial development would provide more and better-paying jobs. In addition, South Boston's Fort Point community would be assured of the safety, vibrancy and neighborhood amenities inherent in a larger residential population. And residential development would put fewer vehicles on the road than purely commercial development of any kind, thus alleviating the negative health and environmental effects of congestion and pollution.
Ballpark Site Alternatives
It is a citywide question as to where the future Red Sox will play. SAND believes any decision must be primarily informed by the neighborhood most impacted by the stadium. That being said, SAND supports renovation and modernization of Fenway Park on its current site and appropriate improvements to best serve fans and Fenway residents. This is a location that has been accepted as home for the Red Sox for ninety years, and we believe it is in the city's and fans' best interest that it remain so.
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.