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Public hearing on Malden pro football team set for Thursday

Posted by Jarret Bencks  February 20, 2013 12:35 PM

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A public hearing that could make or break a deal to bring a start-up professional football team to Malden -- and let owners serve beer at games -- will be held Thursday.

The Boston Freedom Fighters of the newly formed National Spring Football League want to play their home games at Malden's Macdonald Stadium, and previously reached an agreement with the city's stadium commission and Mayor Gary Christenson to do so. But part of the agreement allows the team to serve up to three beers per patron during games, which has drawn criticism from some neighbors and city officials.

The hearing was set after City Councilor Steven Ultrino, who represents Ward 2 -- where Macdonald Stadium is located -- demanded the stadium commission take public input on the proposed plans.

Ultrino also has criticized the commission for failing to engage the public in its discussions over whether to allow the sale of beer during games. It was discovered that many meetings where the proposed deal was discussed were never announced to the public and minutes for the meetings were never made available, violating Open Meeting law.

In January, the commission unanimously approved an agreement to lease Macdonald to the team for a six-game home schedule, starting in April. But the city's Licensing Board still needs to approve a liquor license.

While Christenson has said he viewed bringing the team to Malden as "low-risk, high-reward," he said his support could be swayed depending on the results of Thursday's hearing.

The hearing will be held in the community room at the Malden Housing Authority building at 89 Pearl St. at 6:30 p.m.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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