House measurement eases path to professional football stadium in Everett

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said in a phone interview Friday that he had “informal” conversations with the Krafts about the site, which currently houses a power plant overlooking the Mystic River. DeMaria also said Encore officials are looking for potential partners. to join them in the redevelopment of the property as something “very complementary to their site”.

“We’re looking for something spectacular,” DeMaria said of the property, the owner of which, Constellation Energy, has agreed to put much of it up for sale.

DeMaria said he was not aware of any “official plans” for redevelopment and stressed the area needs more public transit options. But he welcomed the idea of ​​a football stadium rising on the banks of the Mystic River.

“You have a lot of people living in the towns of Everett, Chelsea and Revere. . . and in this field who love football,” he said. “It’s more family-friendly, it’s more affordable than most sports. If we can work on the transit issues and bring something like that up and really light up this waterfront and make this look spectacular, I think the people of Everett would like that.

A spokesperson for Encore declined to comment on the legislation or ownership. Representatives of the Kraft Group did not respond to questions on Friday.

But legislative action infuriated some environmentalists, who said the amendment nullified environmental protections without any input from the public.

“It’s exactly the kind of legislative mischief behind the scenes, in the middle of the night, that breeds distrust of government,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation.

Kraft searched for years for a site to build a professional soccer stadium to host the Revolution, the Major League Soccer team he owns. But after 20 years, the team still plays in the 65,000-seat Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, which is too big for typical American soccer crowds.

“We want to build the stadium,” Jonathan Kraft, Robert’s son and chairman of the Kraft Group, told The Globe in 2020. “We don’t like to fail and we clearly failed to do so.”

The legislation comes at a time when other properties near the casino are also being considered for development. Prominent Boston developer, The Davis Companies, recently reached an agreement to purchase an approximately 100-acre tank farm from ExxonMobil, positioning one of the largest development sites available near Boston for a large-use project. mixed.

Under the legislative proposal, the property located at 173 Alford Street would no longer be considered part of a designated port area, thus helping to open it up to non-maritime uses.

The amendment would also exempt the property from any “height, setback, open space, or other dimensional limitations and requirements” under state tidal law only “for the purposes of a sports, recreation, or event facility.” The exemption would only be in effect if construction of the facility is permitted within three years.

“It’s a pretty drastic change,” said Bruce Berman, director of strategy and communications for the environmental group. Save the Harbour/Save the Bay, which has 25 years of experience in municipal harbor planning. “But in a way, it feels somewhat inevitable given the success of Encore.”

Campbell of the Conservation Law Foundation criticized the decision, saying that without any public process, the language “would unravel fundamental public interest protections that have been in place for centuries.”

“There is a process, for example, to change the boundaries of designated port areas,” he said. “And if there’s a rationale for doing so, let them put their proposal to the test of this process rather than making a deal in the middle of the night.”

The bill’s emergence surprised even those closest to Everett. State Rep. Daniel J. Ryan, a Charlestown Democrat, tabled it among about 870 other amendments to the House’s $3.8 billion economic development bill, and House leaders incorporated it into an imposing consolidated amendment that lawmakers approved. around 7 p.m. on Thursday. The chamber passed the entire bill about 2.5 hours later.

The language must also pass the Senate before it can become law. Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to back it if the tongue gets to his office, according to one of the people familiar with the bill.

His passing could help end years of a fruitless search for a stadium that has included attempts to build it near the UMass Boston campus and on a city-owned tow lot on Boston’s south-south border.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone was interested in 2012 in bringing the Revolution to Assembly Row, across the Mystic from the casino, and also that year Revere officials suggested the town might acquire Wonderland. , the former dog racing track, as a potential stadium site.

At one point, a site in Roxbury was considered as a potential location at a time when Major League Soccer began to stress the importance for its teams of having football-specific stadiums. But the talks never gained serious momentum.

Ryan, the sponsor of the amendment, said he personally did not speak with the Everett site’s Kraft Group and drafted the language with city and state officials and ” people who represent Encore”.

“It makes the land more valuable. This makes the city and the owners of the land more marketable. And they can figure out what they want to put in there,” Ryan said.

Not everyone in Everett appreciated the possibility of a football stadium. Fred Capone, a former Everett city councilman who was narrowly beaten by DeMaria in last November’s election, said he had “serious concerns” about a potential stadium that would further clog an area already congested with cars.

“It’s amazing what money can do,” he said. “We are moving from a community to a metropolis where absolutely everything is for sale.”

But DeMaria said he’d be happy if the Krafts built on the land.

“If it was the family developing it, it would be a big family to associate with,” he said.

Samantha J. Gross and Jon Chesto of Globe staff contributed to this report.


Matt Stout can be contacted at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout. Andrea Estes can be contacted at andrea.estes@globe.com.

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