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Video: Does Malden Center Need an Independent League Baseball Stadium?

Would a stadium create jobs and new revenue or cause traffic and parking hassles?

National Grid has taken another step to move its entire operation to Medford Street, and away from its lot on the corner of Commercial and Centre Street. A private group is interested in buying or leasing that lot and three others on the block to build a $35 million baseball stadium, which would house an independent league baseball team.

There's no deal in place and no official plan before the city, but Malden officials believe the group is viable and could successfully bring a stadium to town. For this week's , we want to know: Does Malden need an independent league baseball stadium? Tell us in the comments or post your own video!

Malden Youth Soccer April 11, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I don't know what an "independent" league means, but Malden desperately needs more fields, especially for organized youth and adult sports. City citizens should come before an independent league. It's also essential to note that enrollment in the city's baseball programs is dwindling, while youth soccer and lacrosse are booming. Soccer and lacrosse can share fields. Right now, soccer is sharing fields with baseball. Some nights, four youth soccer teams practice simultaneous to a baseball game with hard hitters and a younger kids' baseball or softball game. Malden has a huge immigrant community from countries crazy about soccer, and yet adult soccer players have nowhere to play except in tiny spaces in and around other uses of the fields. I think, in fact, that adult soccer players get kicked off the fields by the police if the police notice them using the fields. The grass fields, with large patches of dirt, at Amerige, Callahan, Linden, and Salemwood don't drain and have huge puddles, even 3 days after a heavy rain. The only turf fields Malden soccer (and lacrosse, as far as I know) are at Pine Banks, where Melrose is giving most of the playing and practice time. Malden should build a well-drained turf soccer/lacrosse field on that Boston Gas site, with plenty of parking, bathrooms, and a refreshment stand. Malden could charge independent leagues, for example the adult leagues for field time. -Kim Brookes, NOT on behalf of Malden Youth Soccer
Paul Tetta April 11, 2011 at 07:32 PM
An independent league team plays approximately 80-90 games a year. Therefore, this stadium will host about 45 games a year for whatever team is lured here. Malden will have to put people in the seats the other 320 days of the year. I'm trying to remain open-minded, but I would need a lot of convincing before I buy into this.
Amy P. April 11, 2011 at 07:34 PM
I have read about this and I think this would be AMAZING for the city of Malden. We have the proper infrastructure, close to the T and restaurants, it could vitalize Malden Center. I LOVE this idea!!!!
maldensgreat April 11, 2011 at 11:47 PM
I don't think this is a good idea. The field in Lynn could not last more than 4 years, even after owners invested millions to refurbish the stadium. The visitors would spend $$ in the park, not in area businesses/restaurants--except for parking lots/garages. Malden could use other attractions downtown to draw visitors consistently who would also eat in the great restaurants we have.
Rick O'Shea April 12, 2011 at 02:29 AM
Thanks for the Lynn info. These "outlaw leagues" do not appear to have the greatest longevity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_league_baseball I would like to know more about any givebacks Malden might be providing and what happens if the thing goes defunct. Note the “…and the Nashua franchise folded in August, after piling up massive debts to the city and players.” quote here. http://www.angelfire.com/vt/prospectwatch/index97.html
Erik Royds April 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM
The field in Lynn wasn't a true "baseball experience", just a stadium. You HAD to drive there, park there and hope you made it out of Lynn in one piece. Malden could have a stadium you not only could take the T to but the Commuter Rail as well will open up 4-5 months of Baseball, concerts and the like. It could interact seamlessly with other plans like the Pleasant St. revitalization and the removal of City Hall. Opening up Pleasant St. and Exchange St. to foot traffic would bring people into the downtown to spend money. All the more reason to want retail on the first floor of the proposed Exchange St. apartment sight.
maldensgreat April 13, 2011 at 01:14 AM
Erik, you said yourself "4-5 months of baseball, concerts, etc." Let's say, for argument's sake,you're right (though I think 4-5 months is optimistic). What about the other 7-8 months? You have a behemoth sitting there unused, attracting who knows what....certainly not people spending $$ in the downtown. If we had an enclosed theater space, for both live performances and movies, I think that could be a better draw (similar to Stoneham, Arlington and Somerville).
Robert J. Matusik April 13, 2011 at 06:56 PM
One can think of many "needs" and baseball is not a necessity; however, this proposed baseball stadium would add to the charms of Malden. When one considers the price of admission to Fenway Park, a local option for baseball enjoying residents of Malden and its surround, a choice to attend here is atractive. The proposal seems to involve a public spirited group formed to promote baseball here in Malden and to do so as private enterprise. That would be a good idea as most of us would not support a government subsidy. The prospect of people accomplishing something on their own without involving Tax money is indeed, a refreshing concept.
Erik Royds April 13, 2011 at 08:23 PM
The reality here is the city does NOT own the land nor are they in any position to buy the land. A large foreign corporation owns the land and is going to sell it to the highest bidder or whomever they strike a deal with. If that owner is willing to pay the city taxes, they will find a use for it year round to generate revenue FOR THEM. Hopefully the city won't give the developer a sweatheart tax break for the first 5 years so their can be a positive revenue stream into the city coffers. Otherwise we WILL have an empty building and parking lot doing nothing 12 months of the year. Let's not forget the wonderful glass building and property that sat empty for years until it became the Stop & Shop. The talk of a theater is nice but Malden had a theater district in my lifetime (The Granada and The Strand) that failed and were replaced by the beautiful Police Station and an office building. PS: I think Malden is great too. I live here, work here, send my kids to school here, eat at the restaurants here, shop here if I can and post rebuttals to the Patch using my real name.
Roberto Scalese (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Rick, From what I could gather while talking to Alex Bok (the main guy in the stadium group), Malden wouldn't put much into this deal other than some language about using the parking garage. He did mention some possibility of infrastructure improvements the city may want to make if a stadium was built, but it was pretty nebulous. That's something to watch very closely if his group ever puts forward a concrete proposal. He also talked about the failure in Lynn, saying the team failed because there wasn't much the organization could do to monetize a field with no concourse. I don't know if you ever saw a game there, but it really was just an oversized bleacher set-up, so he may have had a point. In terms of the stadium planned, Bok points to Hammons Field in Missouri, but LeLacheur in Lowell is the closest local example I can picture. But remember: The Spinners are affiliated with the Red Sox, which creates built-in interest for the team.
Paul Tetta April 14, 2011 at 03:21 PM
If you do support this project, remember - there will be only 40 - 50 games a year with a team that is NOT affiliated with the Sox. That's it, plain and simple. I don't think any of the pro-stadum folks (despite some good arguments) have addressed this. Anyone?
Erik Royds April 14, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Paul, I agree this needs to be addressed. Forget the fact that a private company would find ways to utilize the space more than just for games. The field in Lowell seats 4,700. Let's assume Malden would pull in 2,000 per game. We will also assume 40 games. Let's say 10% of the fans are Malden residents. That works out to be an additional 72,000 people per year coming to Malden. That works out to 197 new people coming to Malden per day who wouldn't otherwise feel the need to come here. Not to mention 2nd jobs for 100's of locals. I know of at least 10 people without thinking who jump on the train at night 100 days a year to work at the Boston Garden. I agree stores would pull in that amount of people but it would be the same local people all the time, who are already spending their $ at our restaurants and stores. Additionally they wouldn't pay to park at the almost always empty municipal lots. Another office building would pull in that many people as well but we have several of those 1/2 full or worse. This just seems like a different draw than another Target or Fudruckers. The people who go to games would potentially eat at restaurants, drink in the bars, see the apartment buildings close to the train for rent, read the local advertisers offerings that I assume would be on a ballpark wall or game day sheet.
Rick O'Shea April 14, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Roberto, If they are truly going to risk their own capital with no sweetheart deals more power and good luck to them. Alex Bok is already jumping the shark for me though by comparing this project to Hammons Field. He appears to be picking one of the few relatively successful projects as the model for his project to sell it. It looks like Hammons Field originally hosted the Southwest Missouri State University Bears (the investor/benefactor John Q. Hammons alma mater) and then they recruited the Double-A league team. That is not like the route that Malden is going. As far I know there is no dying billionaire preserving his legacy here. They can say any random thing they want during this sales process, the things put in contracts are what counts. I guess my main question is whether or not the property is going to remain on the tax roll paying the full assessment due. If I were going to invest millions here I would at least try to ask for something back. Also, what are the contingency plans if the project goes bad? Remember the Telecom City concept which proved that not thinking things through wastes time and money. Sources: http://www.startribune.com/nation/118712389.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammons_Field http://www.news-leader.com/article/20110414/NEWS01/104140375/Cards-hope-changes-bring-fans-back-Hammons-Field http://sportifi.com/news/Missouri-State-signs-Lease-with-Hammons-Field-519376.html
Paul Tetta April 14, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Erik, good points, all. I'm just not convinced that an independent team will pull 2000 per game in the long run. I'm looking at the history of these teams in other cities. But I could be wrong. I look forward to hashing this out. Either way, it's great that it's getting people talking about doing *something*.
Marc Levine June 12, 2011 at 02:30 PM
If you build it, they will come lol. Who know's maybe some of our youth championship games could be played there. Just putting it out there , I know the kids would get a big kick out of it.
Todd J. Daly June 15, 2011 at 03:49 PM
If Malden can build anything that is not another Dollar Store, I am all for it. Especially if the possibility were to be there for some of the local high school teams could have a chance to play a few games in a real stadium.
Sean Long July 07, 2011 at 05:18 PM
I don't think a good comparison to a proposed stadium in Malden Center is either Lynn's Fraser Field (a WPA project) or Missouri's Hammond Stadium. I think one should look at Campbell Field in Camden, NJ, which is right outside of a major league city in Philadelphia. Not that I'm comparing Malden to Camden but rather the prioximity of both cities to their corresponding major league city. Campbell Field hosts an independant baseball team (not having an affiliation with a major league team) but also hosts concerts as well as being the homefield for St. Joseph's University in Philly. I'm sure a savvy businessman could find other part-time tenants for a proposed stadium in Malden Center - concerts, local HS and/or youth teams, Mass state HS tournaments, perhaps even a local college (Northeastern University in on the Orange Line and currently plays it's home games in Brookline). My point is, I think there are possibilities that open up if a stadium is built as well as the local business community benefitting from a downtown stadium. Having a professional independant league baseball team would provided families with an affordable alternative to going to Fenway. A lot of the infrastructure is already in place - commuter rail, Orange Line, parking garages etc. - for this project to gain momentum. I've been to quite a few minor league/independant stadiums and would look forward to one being build in Malden.

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