Six places Bob Kraft has tried — and failed — to build a soccer stadium
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a proposal for a pro soccer stadium in Greater Boston is dead.
Robert Kraft has spent a decade looking for a new home for his New England Revolution. Kraft’s latest setback came Thursday when the University of Massachusetts confirmed that a plan to build a stadium at its Boston campus was not “feasible at this point.” The Revolution plays home games at the cavernous Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, home of Kraft’s much higher-profile New England Patriots.
Most Major League Soccer teams play in smaller stadiums located in urban settings, closer to the younger city-dwelling crowds the league has targeted. Kraft has sought several sites on public transit that fit that billing, but has so far come up short. Here’s a look at where he’s tried to build a soccer stadium:
The latest plan would have put the stadium on UMass-owned property in Dorchester that was formerly the Bayside Expo Center. Elected officials, including U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch, immediately criticized the idea when it became public in 2016, citing concerns about transportation and the lack of public input in the planning process. Talks appeared to have sputtered by January and UMass this week confirmed the idea has been shelved. Meanwhile, over the course of the year, UMass Boston found itself in upheaval due to financial and managerial issues that led to the resignation of its chancellor.
Widett Circle, Boston
Kraft representatives spoke several times with city officials about using a city-owned tow lot on the South End-South Boston border as a stadium site. The proposal was at one time tied to Boston’s failed 2024 Olympic bid, which called for a full-size stadium to be built in the area. But Kraft also considered the stadium plan independently from the Olympics and continued to discuss the site even as the bid was collapsing in July 2015. The talks eventually stalled.
As part of its effort to bring a casino to the Suffolk Downs horse track, Revere officials in 2012 suggested that the city could acquire Wonderland, the former dog racing track at the end of the Blue Line, and clear the way for a soccer stadium there. The plan never materialized as casino discussions advanced — and even if it had, Revere ultimately lost to Everett in the bid to host a Boston-area casino.
Assembly Square, Somerville
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone was interested in 2012 in bringing the Revolution to Assembly Row, the $1.5 billion mixed-use development that has sprouted from the ground this decade. He went so far as to research various forms of public-private partnerships between cities and teams for stadium deals, but talks cooled and have not picked up as Assembly Square has continued to fill in.
Inner Belt, Somerville
Somerville was also in the mix in 2008, with a proposal for the Inner Belt neighborhood -- an industrial area immediately east of the McGrath Highway that is slated for a new Green Line stop. The Krafts committed to partially funding a study about that project, but the plan was set aside during the global financial crisis.
More than 10 years ago, Major League Soccer began emphasizing the importance for its teams to have soccer-specific stadiums, and then-Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he was interested. A long-stagnant site in Roxbury, now scheduled for residential and commercial development, was the target site. But the talks never gained serious momentum. Kraft spokesman Stacey James told the Globe at the time, “We’re happy with things as they are” at Gillette.
Bonus: South Boston Waterfront
Long before he sought a Boston-area home for the Revolution, Kraft hoped to build a new stadium for the Patriots on the South Boston waterfront, as part of a “megaplex” that would have included a convention center and a baseball stadium. The plan ignited a political firestorm — Lynch, then serving in the State House, was a central opposition figure — and Kraft ultimately dropped the plan. Instead, he replaced Foxborough Stadium with Gillette. The rest is NFL championship-rich history.