15 Citizen Plaintiffs Join with Emerald Necklace Conservancy to Challenge Proposed Redevelopment of White Stadium by For-Profit Sports Investors

BOSTON — For-profit sports investors have proposed privatizing White Stadium and 1.5 acres of surrounding public parkland in Boston’s historic Franklin Park. Plaintiffs from the neighborhoods surrounding the park, along with park advocates with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, 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; and
  • the lack of adequate community input throughout an incredibly fast-moving redevelopment process.

Yesterday, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and 15 citizen plaintiffs filed a citizens’ lawsuit against the proposed privatization of White Stadium.

“Franklin Park, as it was originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead over a century ago, is for the people who live here. It’s not for any private group to profit from; it’s for the public’s free use,” said plaintiff Jean McGuire of Roxbury, a former executive director of METCO and a community activist who lives four blocks from Franklin Park. “All of us in Boston and the suburbs who use the park want it left pristine. We want it left the way we designed it — for the people.”

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 lawsuit alleges that the proposed redevelopment of White Stadium by Boston Unity Soccer Partners, LLC, a private for-profit investment group, “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 Emerald Necklace Conservancy strongly supports the renovation of White Stadium in Franklin Park, but we do not support the involvement of a professional sports team that would displace the local community for the next 30 years, while privatizing and profiting from a treasured public resource,” said Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. “Rather than turn over White Stadium to a private group of investors, we should focus on improving the stadium, and the rest of Franklin Park, with the $50 million in public funds the city has already identified. Changes to White Stadium should be designed to benefit BPS student-athletes and the public – not to meet the specific needs of profit-driven sports investors.”

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the City of Boston and the Trustees of the White Fund Trust from proceeding with the project because it violates the purpose of the White Fund Trust, which requires White Stadium to be reserved for public use.

During a press conference on Wednesday, plaintiffs and local community members discussed their concerns with the proposed privatization of White Stadium.

“I grew up in Franklin Park; it’s where I learned to ride a bike, and attended festivals for the Caribbean community. I’m fearful that the things I love about the park will go away if White Stadium is sold off to the highest bidder,” said plaintiff Renee Welch, an Egleston Square resident. “This just isn’t the right place for a professional sports stadium. There’s no realistic plan for handling more than 10,000 visitors who will create a traffic nightmare throughout all of the neighborhoods around Franklin Park, including on the single-lane roads around the park. I’m concerned that the resulting traffic gridlock will hurt home values, harming the generational wealth of Black and Brown people who live around Franklin Park.”

“Hundreds of members of the community spent years developing the Franklin Park Action Plan, which never considered handing White Stadium over to a private developer and displacing the community. But under this proposal, the Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Mattapan community will be unable to access the most-used public portion of Franklin Park during most weekends from April through October,” said plaintiff Melissa Hamel, a Jamaica Plain resident. “And while the taxpayers of Boston provide the majority of the funding for the project, the community’s needs would take a back seat to a professional sports team schedule. This private project is being rushed through an accelerated approval process without any consideration for what’s legal, what’s practical, or what the communities around Franklin Park support. We’re bringing this lawsuit because something wrong is happening.”

One Comment

  1. Erica Davis February 26, 2024 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    This needs to stop. There are too many development processes in all of these investors who got money from only God knows where coming into our cities and towns. Especially in our main Urban areas taking control and buying up land using fast buying processes so that the actual residents don’t even have time to state their claim about how they feel in this community. This is getting really frustrating and tiresome. Mayor woo needs to step up and stop this process because she’s also allowing it to happen. You can’t be a great mayor just because you feel like you are pleasing everybody and letting them do what they want some people don’t even live in these areas they’re just buying a property. They can buy property outside of Boston. There are so many places that can use revitalization outside of Boston let the residents decide. This is truly something we do not need. Especially at the risk of displacing any athletic students in our city. Shame on all of you!

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