A Boston Globe columnist took a swipe at the proposed Malden "Field of Dreams" in his Tuesday column, saying the plan would be a poor use of the .
CommonWealth Magazine associate editor and Boston Globe columnist Paul McMorrow said that ballpark developer Alexander Bok "oozes earnestness," but expressed skepticism the site would be as viable as projected.
McMorrow instead advocates an apartment building and shopping center at the site, and "not a ballpark that draws a few thousand fans 70 nights per year."
"There’s reason to question the proposed Malden team’s business prospects. Independent baseball teams have a history of flaming out around Boston. Two separate bids at running a team in Lynn failed, while the Brockton Rox just announced that they won’t be fielding a team in 2012, after defaulting on a $125,000 lease payment on their publicly owned stadium.
"Plummeting attendance and an eroding season ticket base caused Brockton’s team to run out of cash; attendance averaged a third of stadium capacity over the past two years. So it’s potentially worrisome that the the proposed Malden team is counting on an aggressive 77 percent attendance rate, on a higher ticket price than Brockton. The $36 million ballpark will also mean Malden’s team would be carrying a much higher debt load than failed teams in Brockton and Lynn."
Asked about the Brockton and Lynn cases earlier this month, Bok told ," noting those stadiums played in different leagues that required larger stadiums and about half the games per season.
The stadium will also have multi-use purposes for events like high school sports and summer concerts.
McMorrow counters that the closures nevertheless reflect a troubling trend among such projects in the commonwealth, though Bok insists the market in Malden - with much greater access to public transportation and a higher average income among residents - will be able to sustain the project's projected revenues.
He points to stadiums in St. Paul and Long Island - both with successful Atlantic League teams in a popular major league market - as more appropriate analogies for the project.
“We think Boston is an even better market than that,” he said. “A well-run independent team can do very well.”
What do you think? Do these recent stories about other stadiums concern you, or are conditions just right for a Malden ballpark?