Emerald Necklace Conservancy Files Suit To Stop Redevelopment of White Stadium

By Adam Swift

Mayor Michelle Wu and members of her administration touted how a redeveloped White Stadium will benefit the city’s students and residents at a virtual community outreach meeting on Feb. 12.

A little over a week after the Feb. 12 meeting, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and 15 citizens filed suit against the city of Boston, Wu, Boston Unity Soccer Partners LLC, Boston City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune, and others to stop what it characterizes as the proposed privatization of White Stadium and 1.5 acres of surrounding public parkland in Franklin Park.

Boston Unity Soccer Partners have a public-private partnership with the city of Boston and Boston Public Schools to renovate White Stadium to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Boston in 2026.

Under the agreement with the city, Boston Unity will redevelop the west grandstands and create a public area called the Grove just outside the entrance of the stadium. The city would be responsible for the redevelopment of the east grandstands as well as the field itself.

Boston Unity would have full use of the stadium for about 20 game days from May through November, while the updated stadium would be open for use by the city, school sports and other activities, and possible community events the rest of the year.

“The Project Site, a portion of Franklin Park, has been held in trust for over 74 years for the beneficiaries of the White Fund Trust-the residents of Boston,” the complaint from the Emerald Necklace Conservancy reads. “In that time, the Project Site has been used as an open space for public recreation, public school sporting events, and numerous music and cultural festivals. In 2023, the City began discussions with Boston Unity Soccer Partners, LLC to undertake a joint venture to redevelop the Project Site as the home for a professional sports team (the “Project).”

The project, if permitted to go forward, would illegally transfer the public trust lands constituting the Project Site to private parties, ensuring extensive, exclusive use of public trust lands by a private party for the operation of a professional sports team and associated uses, the complaint further states.

“Although White Fund Stadium has fallen into disrepair and is in need of substantial renovations, the City has failed to consider any alternatives to the Project, all while rapidly pushing forward the Project and ignoring the terms of the White Fund Trust and the requirements of Article 97,” the complaint states.

Wu stated that she is excited about the opportunity the redevelopment of the stadium represents, and that it would triple the number of hours that it could be used by the Boston Public Schools and the public.

“The soccer team is just a small portion of how it would actually be used,” Wu told Boston25 news.

During the Feb. 12 meeting, Wu said she understood that the White Stadium project was a complex project involving the park, the schools, and the community.

The mayor also said the redevelopment of White Stadium would uphold the vision of Frederick Law Olmstead to increase activity for the public in public parks.

Karen Mauney-Brodeck, the Executive Director of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, spoke at the Feb. 12 virtual meeting, and said she understands that the stadium needs work.

“I don’t want to slow this down, but it’s regrettable that the community was not asked first: no one from the community was asked if it wanted a professional Women’s soccer team,” Mauney-Brodeck stated.

Concerns about traffic and an influx of people to the neighborhood were also raised in the complaint, which was received in Superior Court on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

“It would fundamentally alter the nature and feel of a significant portion of Franklin Park during the majority of fair weather weekends each year,” the complaint states. “Boston Unity Soccer Partners, LLC proposes to host at least 20 home games on Saturdays between April and November, causing a rapid influx of over 10,000 people on those days, and radically changing the public open space of Franklin Park, well beyond the boundaries of the Project Site, for a huge portion of summer weekend days. This does not even factor in the additional exclusive use of the Project Site during practice sessions for the professional soccer team on at least 20 additional Friday evenings, and the continuous, exclusive use of the West Grandstand buildings and the “Grove” portion of the Site by Boston Unity Soccer Partners, LLC.”

The Grove portion of the project is a proposed outdoor space in front of the stadium that would be used for public events and gameday activities, according to the developers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.