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Minor league park pitched in Malden

Pellham Phillips Architects Engineers/Tat

Architect’s rendering of the proposed Malden Park.

A Boston development group Thursday night made its first public pitch for Malden Park, a $50 million minor league baseball stadium proposed for the site of a National Grid facility on Commercial Street.

Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, led by lawyer Alex Bok, proposes a 6,372-seat stadium that would host a team from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The independent league has eight teams, whose players include college all-stars seeking to make the pros and former Major League players rehabbing to get back to the big leagues.

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If all goes as planned, the park could be ready for opening day in April 2014, according to a timeline prepared by city officials.

A standing-room-only crowd filled the City Council chamber at Malden Government Center to view a 3-D presentation of the project, one of the largest developments ever proposed for downtown Malden. The synthetic turf field also would be available to the Malden High School baseball team.

“I am grateful they chose our community,’’ said Mayor Gary Christenson, who organized the public meeting. “I look forward to learning about this unique opportunity.’’

The red-brick stadium would feature a 360-degree concourse, 16 private boxes, and a children’s play area. In addition to concession stands, a restaurant would be open year-round. A grass picnic area would allow patrons to spread out a blanket while watching a game. A plaza, opening onto Commercial Street, would provide a dramatic entrance, with space available for pregame entertainment.

“Every game is an event,’’ Bok said. “We want to be bring affordable, family fun to Malden. . . . We have brought together an amazing team to bring this to you.’’

The project team includes architects, baseball analysts, and finance advisers with experience building minor league stadiums and Major League venues such as Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles. Malden Park would be modeled on a stadium in Springfield, Mo., that is home to a Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

US Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, was on hand to lend his support for the proposal.

“This is such an exciting night,’’ said Markey, who said he lives about six blocks from the site. “I think all of us came here to be a part of this hopeful new development. This can really be a historic moment for our city.’’

The park would take up an entire city block on Commercial Street, a short walk from an MBTA Orange Line stop.

“It will be a real, sustainable, smart-growth project,’’ said Phil Young, a Missouri-based architect who is designing the stadium with help from The Architectural Team, based in Chelsea.

The ballpark would be located on an 8-acre site that currently includes a National Grid gas operations center, which would relocate in the spring. Three other parcels must be acquired to create enough space.

The Malden site is ideal because it is near public transportation, has highway access, and has 1,200 parking spots available in downtown garages, Bok said. “We really believe we have the best site in Greater Boston.’’

The Malden Redevelopment Authority, working with National Grid, had issued a request for ideas for the site. Although a few developers inquired, Bok’s group was the only one that submitted a final proposal. The 75-page document, along with last night’s presentation, will be published on the city’s website, www.cityofmalden.org, by Tuesday, Christenson said.

A committee reviewing the proposal will make a recommendation to the Malden Redevelopment Authority. That panel would then have to vote to designate Bok’s group as developer. If that happens, lease negotiations would start with National Grid, which plans to retain ownership of the land, officials said.

If Bok’s group reaches agreement with National Grid, state and local permitting would begin later this year. Once permitted, construction could begin in winter 2013, according to the time line.

The three adjacent parcels needed for the project are Collex Collision, L & L Services, and Spadafora Auto Parts. Negotiations to obtain those properties are underway.

Stephen M. Wishoski, executive director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority, said the approval process would be long and detailed. At public hearings, Malden residents could weigh in on the project. “This is the beginning of a very long process that will involve, and ensure, participation by the public,’’ he said.

Residents at Thursday’s meeting expressed mixed views.

“What happens down the road, when the team is done?’’ asked Mike Aliberte. “Then what would we do with the stadium?’’

Jim Vozzella said a ballpark would shine a bright light on Malden. “As far as I’m concerned, it would bring people into the city,’’ Vozzella said. “You’re not going to get 6,000 people just from Malden at the games. . . . You’re going to bring new people here. I think that’s great.’’

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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