Bob Kraft and the rest of the New England Revolution’s management have said for nearly a decade that they would like to build a soccer stadium in Greater Boston. They may be a couple of meetings closer to that goal than they were six months ago.
City officials remain in talks with the Kraft family, which owns the Major League Soccer team, about the prospect of putting its new home on South Boston land currently owned by the city. A public records request from Boston.com revealed that they’ve met twice since December.
But officials are tight-lipped about how the meetings went.
City spokesperson Laura Oggeri said “discussions are ongoing.’’ However, “no additional meetings have been scheduled at this time,’’ she said.
In the meetings, which were held in mid-December and early March, officials from the mayor’s office and the Boston Redevelopment Authority spoke with representatives of the Krafts, who also own the New England Patriots. Discussions have centered on financing plans for the proposed stadium.
The Krafts have said they planned to move the team from its current home in Foxborough since 2006, but several past proposals—including plans in Roxbury, Somerville, and Revere—have come and gone.
Revolution fans have clamored for years for a soccer-specific stadium closer to the city. As past proposals have come and gone, some fans have grown jaded, taking the approach that they’ll believe in a stadium when they see it.
A Boston Globe report last fall said that the Krafts were eyeing land that currently serves as a city tow lot and a public works facility. The land is on the South Boston-South End border, right off I-93 and close to the Broadway MBTA station.
It’s unclear how the recent meetings unfolded. The city declined to share any documents exchanged or presented in the meetings, citing a state exemption from public records laws pertaining to plans that are still under development.
Dave Sweeney, the city’s chief financial officer, participated in both meetings, according to Oggeri.
A calendar invitation to arrange the December meeting, sent to the BRA by Revolution President Brian Bilello, said the meeting would be with the “Kraft Finance Team.’’ Asked if the meetings focused on the reported South Boston location, a BRA spokesperson said it is the “only site that’s been talked about that I’m aware of.’’
The Revolution declined to comment on the status of the stadium talks, saying through a spokesperson: “It has been a long stated goal of the club to build an urban soccer stadium for the Revolution but we have no comments on any specific updates at this time.’’
Because the city owns the property, it would need to offer the land up to other potential users if the Krafts try to acquire it. All potential owners would submit proposals for the land to the city.
The parcel is adjacent to Widett Circle, where Olympic organizing committee Boston 2024 has said it hopes to build a temporary Olympic stadium should Boston wind up hosting the 2024 Olympics.
While Boston 2024’s bidding documents mention that incorporating a permanent professional or college stadium into its Olympic plans may make sense as an alternative to a temporary stadium, the two projects are separate from one another.
The Boston Business Journalreferred to the dynamic this spring as a “chess match’’—though it’s one that’s made all the more intriguing by Kraft’s involvement with Boston 2024, at least when it launched. The swath of land could be big enough to hold multiple projects. But preliminary conceptual drawings of a post-Olympics neighborhood in the space do not include a soccer stadium.
The proposed Revolution stadium location is also next to an MBTA maintenance facility, which has presented some logistical issues for Boston 2024’s plans for the neighborhood.
The team currently plays at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, which is also owned by the Krafts. Gillette is not ideal for soccer because soccer draws a smaller crowd than the Patriots do, often leaving the stadium more than half empty. Over the last decade, most MLS teams have moved into soccer-specific stadiums, which generally seat between 20,000 and 30,000 fans.