21 Citizen Plaintiffs, Emerald Necklace Conservancy Challenging Proposed Redevelopment of White Stadium by For-Profit Sports Investors

BOSTON — Today a Suffolk County Superior Court judge postponed for two weeks any action on the City of Boston’s and Boston Unity Soccer LLC Partners’ plans to redevelop and privatize White Stadium in Boston’s historic Franklin Park.

Plaintiffs from the neighborhoods surrounding the park, along with park advocates at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, applauded the decision by Judge Sarah W. Ellis to delay any ruling on the unconstitutional privatization of White Stadium: public land that is held in permanent trust for the residents of Boston.

“We are relieved that the judge postponed making her decision on this important constitutional question,” said plaintiff Renee Welch, an Egleston Square resident. “Franklin Park and White Stadium are for the people of Boston, not for private investors to make a profit. This project has been moving too fast, ignoring the community’s concerns over the displacement of BPS student-athletes and the local community from the stadium and Franklin Park.”

The City of Boston has already received bids to demolish portions of White Stadium and the existing athletic field and track as soon as this month, as part of a proposal by Boston Unity Soccer Partners LLC, a for-profit private company, to redevelop and privatize the stadium, its grounds, and surrounding public parkland. During Wednesday’s hearing, attorneys for the plaintiffs were seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the City’s rush to demolish the stadium, which would displace BPS student-athletes and community events for the next two years.

The judge has given both sides until the end of next week to present their responses to today’s hearing. She intends to issue her ruling on March 22. Judge Ellis cautioned the City of Boston that if they entered into any contractual agreements they do so “at their peril.”

“White Stadium needs to be significantly renovated to improve access for BPS student-athletes and the local community. But we oppose turning control of the stadium over to a professional sports team at the expense of BPS students and the local community, and allowing for-profit investors to privatize and profit from a public resource in violation of the state’s constitution,” said Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. “We’re glad the court has slowed the City’s attempt to fast-track this privatization of public trust land without adequate community input or a proper environmental review. We hope city officials will reconsider the involvement of a professional sports team, and use the $50 million in taxpayer funds they’ve identified for improvement of White Stadium to renovate it with a clear focus on the benefit of BPS student-athletes and the communities surrounding Franklin Park.”


Many members of the Franklin Park community are deeply concerned about the proposal by the City of Boston and Boston Unity Soccer Partners LLC, a for-profit private company, to redevelop and privatize White Stadium, its grounds, and surrounding public parkland that is used especially by the Environmental Justice communities of Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan. This proposal would grant a 30-year lease of public trust property to a professional for-profit sports team; build dedicated private facilities and other uses like offices, corporate box suites, restaurants and shops; and displace Boston Public School students and the general public from the stadium for 20 games and 20 practices, on three out of every four Fridays and Saturdays from April-November. The proposal would also displace BPS football teams from the stadium for their entire regular season, and limit the availability of one of the most-used free public areas of Franklin Park for music and cultural festivals, basketball and tennis games, and cross country running meets.

Members of the community around Franklin Park are deeply concerned about:

  • the unconstitutional privatization of public land;
  • the displacement of BPS student-athletes and the local community from White Stadium and Franklin Park;
  • the absence of a realistic transportation plan for 20 annual game days that will draw more than 11,000 attendees to the stadium; and
  • the lack of adequate community input throughout an incredibly fast-moving redevelopment process.

White Stadium, an open space for public recreation and public school sporting events, has been held in trust for over 74 years for the beneficiaries of the White Fund Trust — the residents of Boston. The citizens lawsuit alleges that the proposed redevelopment of White Stadium by Boston Unity Soccer Partners, LLC “would not only violate the White Fund Trust and [the Public Land and Protection Act, Article 97, of the Massachusetts constitution] by transferring public trust land to private use and excluding members of the public from the Project Site, including some Boston Public School sports teams who currently use White Fund Stadium, 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 Mayor’s Office has identified $50 million in taxpayer funds for the improvement of White Stadium, while Boston Unity Soccer Partners LLC would contribute only $30 million to the project, less than half the total. The soccer team’s contribution would only be used on the portions of the project that the team would control with a 30-year, year-round lease. Advocates agree that the $50 million in taxpayer funds are well spent renovating the current facilities, in line with the city’s own approved Franklin Park Action Plan. Rather than turning over White Stadium to a private group of investors, they support renovating the stadium and surrounding areas, in thoughtful coordination with the surrounding park, for the benefit of BPS student-athletes and the Environmental Justice communities surrounding Franklin Park.

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