Massachusetts Judge Green Lights Stadium Renovation Project for NWSL Team

May 31, 2024

A Massachusetts state court judge denied various neighborhood groups’ request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would have stopped the renovation of Franklin Park’s White Stadium.

The groups, which call themselves the Franklin Park Defenders had argued that the project did not follow proper protocols and would ultimately privatize a public space.

The $80 million project is supported by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration and Boston Unity Soccer Partners (BUSP), with plans calling for the stadium’s use as the home field for Boston’s future National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team, which begins play in 2026.

The court wrote that the “Proposed Use Agreement, establishing the hierarchy of Stadium uses, further reinforces the predominant public purpose. The scheduling of professional soccer games and practices would be preempted by BUPS sporting events and ceremonies, as well as public festivals and events. The private benefits are not primary, but instead subsidiary to White Stadium’s public purposes.”

BUSP praised the ruling, noting that it “demonstrates the court’s understanding that the communities around Franklin Park and White Stadium should not have to wait any longer for the decades of neglect and underuse to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the plaintiffs, Karen Mauney-Brodek, pointed out that they will continue to fight the project, since it is supported by $50 million in taxpayer funds. “We will continue to stand up for the students of Boston, who deserve a state-of-the-art public White Stadium and should not have to yield to the demands of for-profit investors to get it,” she said.

Mayor Wu also praised the court’s decision.

“I’m thrilled to see the court’s clear ruling that this frivolous lawsuit from the Emerald Necklace Conservancy must not block our ongoing community engagement to deliver a generational investment in White Stadium and Franklin Park,” she said. “Now, for the first time since the stadium’s opening, the City has a committed partnership to invest in and sustain the improvements that our students, park lovers, and neighbors deserve—while dramatically expanding the hours of usage for BPS sports and community events.”

In the months since the decision, Mauney-Brodek has maintained that the fight will continue.

BUSP welcomed the challenge.

“As indicated by the judge’s ruling last month, there is no legal basis to challenge this public-private-community partnership to revitalize White Stadium,” BUSP said in a statement. “The (plaintiffs’) sentiments are not consistent with the feedback we’ve heard from neighbors, civic leaders, community groups and elected officials in our more than 180 meetings and conversations since starting the process over a year and a half ago.”

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