Renovation of White Stadium on hold

July 4, 2014
By

PARKSIDE—The renovation of Franklin Park’s White Stadium has been delayed and might even be canceled, according to a mass email from the Franklin Park Coalition (FPC).

But the organization that is partnering with the City for the renovation says it remains “excited” for the project and looks forward to moving forward.

Former Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Scholar Athletes (BSA), a nonprofit founded by Suffolk Construction company magnate John Fish, announced last summer a $45 million renovation plan for White Stadium to turn it into a year-round facility. The proposal would add a turf field for more durable use; two paved parking lots; two buildings containing offices, locker rooms and classrooms; and a soft plastic bubble that would cover the field in the winter for basketball games.

Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office did not return a request for comment.

Separately, Fish is heading the private committee that is seeking to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston, which would require new or upgraded athletics facilities around the city. It is unclear how the White Stadium plan, announced as an unexpected surprise last year, plays into that.

BSA said in a statement that it remains “excited” about the renovation, the impact it will have on students and the opportunity to partner with the Walsh Administration.

“While we recognize that the success of this project will require a strong public-private partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Scholar Athletes, we also recognize the Walsh Administration recently began its first term and must focus its resources on the many other new and exciting initiatives that will benefit our city and its citizens,” said BSA.

BSA said it looks forward to working with Walsh Administration and City officials on the plans for White Stadium.

Christine Poff, executive director of FPC, which raises funds and programs for Franklin Park, said she has been told by the City and Suffolk Construction that the renovation is “on hold.”

She said, “FPC would love to see investment in Franklin Park,” as long as it didn’t adversely affect parkland or park users. Poff said that if the renovation plans start up again, FPC hopes that the City and Suffolk Construction will meet with the community and the organization to help develop guidelines and move the project forward.

White Stadium was built in 1945 in the northern end of the park along Walnut Avenue and Sigourney Street and has been underused for years. It can hold only one event per day due to its grass turf and is not accessible to community use.

Best of JP 2014