Group hints new ballpark could work in S. Boston
by Steve Marantz
(c) 2000 The Boston Herald

Friday, October 13, 2000

Just three years after telling the Patriots to take a hike, a South Boston citizens' group says it might be willing to invite the Red Sox to build a new home on the waterfront.

As uncertainty grows over the viability of the Fenway for a proposed new stadium, the Lower End Political Action Committee has decided a waterfront baseball facility could be the lesser evil of several development scenarios - but only if vehicular traffic is minimized with adequate public transportation.

``There's going to be buildings built there,'' said Brian Mahoney, head of LEPAC. ``The question is, do we want an office tower that's used 12 months a year, or a baseball park that's used six months?

``People assume we are opposed to a baseball park because we opposed the football plan, but that's not true. No one in the community has been asked. We never said no (to a baseball park).''

About 50 members of the group, which represents the South Boston neighborhood nearest the waterfront development, met Wednesday night, Mahoney said, and indicated their willingness to discuss a baseball park.

The discussion took place as the Red Sox' ability to finance a $665 million stadium in the Fenway appears in doubt, and the club is up for sale. A waterfront site, such as the vacant parcels owned by developer Frank McCourt, would be a cheaper site on which to build a stadium, Mahoney suggests. But the neighborhood would insist rigorous traffic-management conditions be met.

``A parking-free stadium would be the ideal,'' Mahoney said. ``It would have to have as much or more public transportation than the Fenway has.''

Other South Boston citizen groups, and the neighborhood's elected officials, are less open or decisively opposed to a waterfront baseball stadium.

``We would be interested in hearing the idea out fully . . . but frankly, I think the neighborhood would be more interested in having public parks before a private park,'' said Jon Seward, spokeman for Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design.

``Larger issues need to be discussed. Why isn't there more residential housing, parks and open space?''

Said Gerard Vierbickas, president of South Boston Residents' Group: ``It's more than a bad idea - it would be disastrous. If you were looking for a sure-fire way to have gridlock, that would be it.''

State Sen. Stephen F. Lynch said yesterday he opposes a waterfront park, and is upset that the Fenway plan passed by the Legislature has not been acted upon by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the City Council.

City Council President James M. Kelly, who represents South Boston, said conversations with residents have convinced him the ballpark traffic problem is ``insurmountable.''

However, the Boston Redevelopment Authority released an assessment of the McCourt parcels yesterday, which indicated that traffic could be contained relatively close to the site - but said a ballpark is not the ``best use.''

Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.